Disney seems to be steadily moving through its back catalog, adapting many of its well-loved classics into live-action movies, with varying degrees of success. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland received mixed reviews, but performed well at the box-office. Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story from the bad fairy’s point of view, also received mixed reviews but, like Alice, it fared well enough at the box office to be given a sequel (which will arrive in due course).
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, starring Lily James and Richard Madden fared better in the review stakes, and became Branagh’s highest grossing film to date. Most recently, Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book adaptation has seen massive critical and commercial success this year, and it seems as though Disney’s live-action reimaginings are getting better and better. (Though Alice Through the Looking Glass has not fared well in early reviews…) Just yesterday, the release of a teaser for Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), smashed the record for the most number of trailer views in 24 hours, and the trailer itself already has most people excited for the movie.
It seems perhaps logical, then, that Disney are looking to give more of its animated classics the live-action treatment, to add to this ever-growing list. According to Deadline, the latest project being considered is The Little Mermaid.
Disney executives are currently reported to be in the early stages of reviewing the Little Mermaid story, originally by Hans Christian Anderson. The Deadline report states that production bosses have been given a new take on the story to think over, and have even entered into discussion with potential producers about the project, which would point to it being a good possibility that this idea might actually come to fruition.
First released in 1989, The Little Mermaid was a smash hit for Disney; its songs, lovable characters and romantic storyline resonated with audiences and the film ushered in the golden era for the company, preceding the arrival of other Disney classics such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. In recent years, The Little Mermaid has proven it can retain its popularity, enjoying great success on the Broadway stage as well as touring productions across the globe. Indeed, the songs from the movie (composed by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman), will be performed next month in a sell out concert at the Hollywood Bowl, starring Sarah Bareilles and Rebel Wilson.
In that respect, and given the overwhelming response that Beauty and the Beast has seen, it makes sense for Disney to tackle this classic too – provided, of course, that they do it right. The mention that execs have been presented with a new take on the story would seem to suggest taking the live-action version in a different direction to that of the original movie, whereas Beauty and the Beast has stayed more or less faithful to its original, even including the score and songs from the first film. Fans of Disney might welcome something similar with The Little Mermaid but be more opposed to a new retelling.
However, Disney face competition, since a live-action Little Mermaid is already in development at Universal. Coming from Working title, and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, the movie is set to be directed by upcoming talent Rebecca Thomas, from a script by Richard Curtis (About Time). The project has been stuck in development for a while now, with various names attached to star or direct, including Sofia Coppola. She departed the project last year, and since then it seems as though things are moving along once more. The main difference between this Little Mermaid and Disney’s though, is that Curtis’ script is thought to follow the original Hans Christian Anderson tale more closely.
Whatever the outcome of this right now, it almost seems a safe bet to assume The Little Mermaid will end up being remade at some point in the future. After all, the list of its own movies that Disney is remaking, is long. Pete’s Dragon, Cruella, Jungle Book 2, Dumbo, Pinocchio, and Mary Poppins 2, are all set to join Maleficent 2 and Beauty and the Beast. How long before Disney announces plans for a live-action Aladdin (in addition to the studio’s developing live-action Aladdin prequel, Genies)?
We will keep you up to date with any developments on The Little Mermaid.