We're ready to go under the sea for Disney's live-action "The Little Mermaid" movie. The film was first announced back in 2016 and details about it have been trickling in slowly ever since. After the COVID-19 pandemic slowed production, the movie is finally set to hit cinemas in May and fans are eager to take it all in — including the movie's many differences from the original, like new songs and even some tweaks to original tracks fans have come to love.
The rebooted version of one of the original film's most iconic songs, "Part of Your World," dropped on 26 April, and hearing how much emotion star Halle Bailey's vocals bring to the song will make you even more excited to hear the rest of the movie's new music. Just over a week later, on 7 May, a snippet of another "Little Mermaid" original, "Kiss the Girl," was previewed during the 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards.
During the Oscars on 12 March, 2023, Disney released the full trailer for the live-action film. It gives us our best look yet at Ariel's colourful underwater world, with British actor Jonah Hauer-King as the dashing Prince Eric, and Melissa McCarthy as the villainous Ursula, who's always up to some major mayhem. The footage also spotlights Javier Bardem as King Triton.
Way back in September 2022, Disney released the first teaser for the movie at D23 Expo. That teaser features beautiful shots of Ariel in the ocean with the iconic "Part of Your World" playing in the background. Bailey also sings some of the song in the teaser. At the event, Disney played the full "Part of Your World" sequence for the crowd in attendance.
"I hope that we can just bring back some of that childhood movie magic."
Of making history as the first Black actor to play Ariel and the second to be crowned a Disney princess (Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in 2009's "The Princess and the Frog," was the first), Bailey told POPSUGAR in March, "It's about time that a role like this is played by a Black woman, by somebody who is just a part of this beautiful community. We deserve to have images that look like us and to see ourselves in the media on big screens and everything."
She also spoke about the initial reaction to the trailer in a November 2022 interview with POPSUGAR. "I just feel super honoured that I get to take on a role like this," she said. "It really makes me pinch myself at times. It doesn't feel real, but I'm just really grateful with the overall response, especially from the babies. They keep me going. Seeing all the reactions of them just make me cry and fill me with such joy."
Bailey anticipates viewers will enjoy the nostalgia of the live-action film. "I hope that we can just bring back some of that childhood movie magic," she said, adding, "I hope that when the movie finally does come out, everybody enjoys it and really likes it, because I did my best."
In Variety's 2022 Power of Young Hollywood issue, published in August 2022, Bailey discussed identifying with Ariel at a young age, saying, "Her sense of longing, her searching for herself, was something that I could resonate with. She knew where she wanted to go, and she wasn't going to let anybody stop her."
In the same Variety interview, Bailey also opened up about how she coped with the racist criticism that followed her casting. "It's important to have a strong support system around you. It's hard to carry the weight of the world on your own," she added. Bailey said she leaned on her grandparents, who shared their own memories of the racism and discrimination they've endured over the years. "It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, 'You don't understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,'" she recalled.
Read ahead for everything we know about the anticipated new movie, including the trailer, release date, music, and poster.
— Additional reporting by Yerin Kim