Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” is making waves at the Memorial Day weekend box office. The film is projected to have a domestic debut of $117.5 million over the four-day weekend, ranking as the fifth-largest opening in holiday history. The estimated three-day gross is $95.4 million. However, these numbers may be adjusted when the final weekend figures are tallied on Tuesday.
Internationally, “The Little Mermaid” had a disappointing start, earning $68.1 million across 51 markets. The film struggled in China, opening with just $2.5 million. Some industry experts believe that the social media backlash over casting a Black actress as Ariel may have influenced its performance in Asian markets and elsewhere.
In North America, the film received a promising A CinemaScore and attracted a predominantly female audience, accounting for 68% of ticket buyers. The film also drew a diverse audience, with 35% of ticket buyers being Black, followed by white (33%), Latino (23%), and Asian/other (9%). Black moviegoers showed particularly strong interest, while white moviegoers were slightly less represented.
Directed by Rob Marshall, the live-action adaptation stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, who enters into a risky pact with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to explore life on land and meet Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). Despite racist backlash on social media, Bailey’s performance has garnered critical praise. While the protests are not expected to impact the film’s performance in North America, they may have affected its reception in certain international markets.
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The cast also includes Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, and Art Malik.