There’s no doubt about it; Hollywood is in the age of adaptation – whether that means adapting comic book characters, literary heroes and heroines, or iconic fantasy figures for the big screen. Still, even more so than superheroes and dystopias, fairytales possess the staying power and timeless magnetic appeal to consistently draw in large, diverse audiences.
Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and most recently, Cinderella, have certainly proven so by taking in respectable hauls at the global box office, prompting the Mouse House to make plans for even more live-action versions of its classic animated counterparts (Beauty and the Beast among them). Universal has also hopped on the bandwagon – or, more accurately, the pumpkin carriage – with its plans to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s story The Little Mermaid. A script is in place, but the project has suffered numerous setbacks, preventing production from moving ‘happily’ forward.
The primary setback has been a bad case of director dropout. First, Joe Wright left to helm the upcoming Pan, then Sofia Coppola climbed onboard as director. Deadline is now reporting that Coppola has stepped down from Little Mermaid, due to – you guessed it – “creative differences.” That said, the studio is still moving ahead with a new, yet-to-be-chosen director and a Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride) rewrite of the story.
We shouldn’t be too surprised about the director change, though, considering Coppola is known for working on more indie-flavored, adult-themed, dramas like The Bling Ring and Lost in Translation. There’s a chance she wanted to take the undersea fairytale in a darker, less-Disneyesque direction – as originally intended by Andersen – and Universal just wasn’t on board.
It does come as a bit of a disappointment, though, as Coppola is also known for her ethereal use of natural lighting, pastel colors, and introspective camera angles that all work together to create a dream-like atmosphere for this new version of Little Mermaid. Such an atmosphere would perfectly suit and enhance Ariel’s fantastical undersea world – and considering half of the film will most likely take place underwater, the challenge facing the future director will be to establish that unique, otherworldly ocean environment.
Coppola, meanwhile, will soon be directing A Very Murray Christmas, the upcoming Netflix Christmas special that reunites her with her Lost in Translation leading man, Bill Murray.
More on The Little Mermaid as the story develops.
“The Little Mermaid” Artwork by Alice Zhang @DeviantArt
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