The Little Mermaid is headed to Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar on Wednesday, September 6. The live-action reimagining of the eponymous 1989 animated musical will arrive 103 days after its theatrical release on May 26, during which it bagged $566.6 million (about Rs. 4,692 crore) at the global box office. That's a bit longer than the 90-day window Disney selected for its recent Marvel releases, a number that got inflated over time as a means to get more people into theatres and sell more VOD copies — both digital and physical media. In India, The Little Mermaid live-action film will be available to stream only in two languages — English and Hindi — odd, considering all previous releases came with at least four additional language dubs.
The release also brings with it some bonus featurettes that will offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the creators managed to bring the animation to life. Of course, this will be available under separate sections, and don't tally into the runtime of The Little Mermaid. Disney does seem to make exceptions in the theatrical-to-streaming timeline for certain films — Avatar: The Way of Water comes to mind, which only hit Disney+ after a whopping 173-day window. That partly had to do with its significantly stretched and unstoppable theatrical run, which further led to successful box records, earning $2.320 billion (about Rs. 19,213 crore) worldwide. While it certainly seems ideal for the company to delay streaming dates to earn more theatrical revenue, The Little Mermaid has suffered relatively on the box office front.
While the film performed impressively within the US and Canada regions, grossing $297.1 million (about Rs. 2,461 crore), it failed in the international markets, making a lesser $269.5 million (about Rs. 2,232 crore). The Little Mermaid was budgeted at $250 million (about Rs. 2,070 crore), with Disney spending an additional $140 million (about Rs. 1,159) on marketing — a similar investment as other ‘live-action' films such as The Lion King, though that went on to cross the billion-dollar mark. This could be due to audiences getting tired of films being mindless cash grabs, as Disney continues remaking beloved animated classics. The thinking goes something like - “Here's something people enjoy. Let's shake things up and release it again. Hopefully, it works.” Not to mention, the visual style and animation of creatures/ animals have leaned on depicting a realistic form, thereby sacrificing most of the characters' emotions and expressions, which made the originals so interesting.
The Little Mermaid follows the same plot beats as the original, focusing on Ariel (Halle Bailey), a spirited but defiant mermaid princess, who is dissatisfied with her underwater life and wants to explore the forbidden lands above where humans dwell. On one stormy night, she saves a human prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) from drowning and immediately falls head over heels in love with him. Despite her father King Triton's (Javier Bardem) warnings, Ariel makes a deal with the conniving sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), trading her melodious singing voice for a pair of limbs, so she could experience life on land.
The Little Mermaid is out September 6 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. In India, the movie will be available in English and Hindi.
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