Disney has finally announced when its live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid will arrive on Disney+. For those who have been waiting to catch this new version of the animated classic at home, it won't be much longer. The Little Mermaid will debut on Disney+ on September 6.
The movie's streaming debut will come 103 days after its theatrical release, a fairly lengthy wait these days. Many believed the film to be dead in the water after its $118.8M domestic debut during the four-day Memorial Day weekend.
But Ariel proved resilient. Aided by fairly positive critics' reviews — a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes — and a whopping 94% audience score, The Little Mermaid ultimately ended its box office run with $566.5M worldwide ($297M domestically), the sixth highest-grossing movie of 2023. For any other studio or movie, this would be an impressive box office haul; but, for Disney, which has grown accustomed to billion-dollar box office hits, it can only be viewed as disappointing — even in a post-Covid world where box office numbers are generally down across the board.
It's not even that The Little Mermaid failed to match the success of other Disney live-action remakes, such as Aladdin ($1.05B) and Beauty and the Beast ($1.26B), but rather that even with $566.5M it likely failed to turn a profit. Although Disney has not released the exact production budget, it's estimated that the 2023 remake cost around $250 million to make and another $140 million in marketing spend. It's believed that The Little Mermaid would have needed to earn around $625 million at the box office to start turning a profit. For a movie based on one of Disney's most beloved princesses, the fact that it quite possibly lost the company money is shocking.
While it's easy to blame changing consumer spending habits for The Little Mermaid's box office failure — many have grown accustomed to simply waiting for movies to hit streaming services rather than pay to see them in theaters — we've now had multiple box office blockbusters prove that people are willing to still spend the money if a movie looks worth it. Both The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie have topped $1 billion worldwide, so there's clearly still demand for seeing movies in theaters.
In any case, The Little Mermaid swims to Disney+ on September 6, 2023.