Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey as the iconic mermaid princess Ariel, has received a warm welcome from US audiences but failed to impress overseas, especially in China. The film, directed by Rob Marshall, opened to $117.5 million domestically, making it the fifth-biggest opening of all time for the holiday. However, its international performance was far less impressive, earning only $68.3 million from 46 markets, according to Deadline. In China, one of the most important markets for Hollywood blockbusters, The Little Mermaid flopped with a dismal $2.5 million debut and is projected to end its run with just $4 million. The film faced fierce competition from Universal’s Fast X, which topped the China box office for the second weekend with $17.6 million, bringing its total to $109.9 million.
The Little Mermaid also suffered from negative online reviews in some international markets, such as France, Korea, Germany, and Brazil. Some critics accused the film of being unfaithful to the original 1989 animated classic, while others expressed racist sentiments towards Bailey’s casting as Ariel. The film currently has a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but a much lower rating on IMDb in some countries. Disney has faced similar backlash for its previous live-action remakes, such as Mulan and Aladdin, which also struggled to resonate with some foreign audiences.
Rob Marshall discussed his approach to directing the film adaptation in the following words: “I wanted to create a film that was faithful to the original animation but also brought something new and fresh to it. I think we achieved that by casting a diverse and talented group of actors who brought their own interpretations and emotions to their roles. I also wanted to make sure that the music was a big part of the film because it’s such an integral part of The Little Mermaid’s legacy.”