Disney’s The Little Mermaid remains one of the best-loved animated classics from the House of Mouse, a film that ushered in the start of what became known as the Disney renaissance era. The storyline and characters are all well rounded and deliver a great movie, but The Little Mermaid is really made great by the musical score, written by Disney stalwarts Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman.
Given the film’s continued success, and its popularity on the stage, it seems logical that Disney has decided that Little Mermaid is ripe for a live-action remake – as the studio has now done with its animated classics like Jungle Book, Cinderella, and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast. It seems the Mouse House is also turning to an accomplished pair of musicians to jump-start development on this particular retelling, too.
Deadline is reporting that the Hamilton Broadway musical’s creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda is being brought on board to write the music for the live-action Little Mermaid, alongside Menken. Before everyone gasps in horror at the thought of all the original songs being abandoned, fear not! Miranda and Menken will, reportedly, write new music for the film to blend in with the existing original film score and songs; meaning, classics such as ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Part of Your World’ should remain. A new batch of songs should also give other characters, such as Prince Eric, the chance to sing on screen, too.
A recent sell-out run of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl proved the public’s love of Menken’s original Little Mermaid score is still ripe. Fans turned out to see the songs performed live by stars including Sarah Bareilles, Rebel Wilson, Tituss Burgess, and John Stamos, and the stage production enjoyed a successful run on Broadway and as a touring show. Meanwhile, Miranda has enjoyed unrivaled success with Hamilton on Broadway, which he has recently bowed out of. The show stormed its way to 11 Tony wins this year, and Miranda himself is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Disney has since sought to harness Miranda’s talent as much as possible. He is also set to star in Mary Poppins Returns, as lamp-lighter Jack, alongside Emily Blunt as the titular character, and co-wrote the songs (some of which he also performs) for Disney’s upcoming animated film, Moana. The Little Mermaid will be co-produced by Miranda with Marc Platt, who also serves as producer for Mary Poppins Returns.
Menken’s own career with Disney is long and distinguished; as well as The Little Mermaid, he has written songs and scores for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Enchanted, and Tangled, among others, winning a very respectable eight Oscars so far, two of which were for The Little Mermaid. In addition, Menken helped to write some original songs for the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast (a film that, similar to the live-action Little Mermaid, will feature tunes from its animated counterpart too).
Of course, Disney’s Little Mermaid remake is not to be confused with the other Little Mermaid, currently in development at Universal. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, the project has hit a series of bumps along the way but does (at present) have a director set in the form of Rebecca Thomas, with a script from Richard Curtis. That Little Mermaid is said to be more closely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. However, given the popularity of Disney’s Little Mermaid, and now the addition of Menken and Miranda to the creative team for the remake, it makes you wonder why Universal would even wish to bother.
We will keep you up to date with developments on The Little Mermaid.