‘The Little Mermaid’ makes the box office with a $95.5 million opening


Disney estimates the film, which stars Halle Bailey as the titular mermaid and Melissa McCarthy as her sea nemesis, Ursula, will reach $117.5 million by the time the holidays are over.

LOS ANGELES — “The Little Mermaid” made moviegoers want to be under the sea this Memorial Day weekend.

Disney’s live-action remake of the 1989 animated classic easily outpaced the competition, bringing in $95.5 million on 4,320 screens in North America, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

And Disney estimates that the film, starring Halle Bailey as the titular mermaid Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as her sea nemesis, Ursula, will reach $117.5 million by the time the holidays are over. It ranks as the fifth-biggest Memorial Day weekend opening ever.

Moves “Fast X” to the top. The 10th installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise starring Vin Diesel has trailed the series’ most recent releases, bringing in $23 million domestically for a two-week total of $108 million for Universal Pictures.

In its fourth weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.” Disney and Marvel. 3” earned about $20 million in North America to take third place. It has now made $299 million domestically.

The Little Mermaid rendition represents something of a springboard for Disney’s animated remakes, and it’s likely they’ll keep coming indefinitely. Poor reception and the pandemic have had a few recent reboots either underperform or bypass theatrical releases for Disney+, including “Dumbo,” “Mulan” and “Pinocchio.”

“It works as far as movies go,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “It’s great for Disney to be able to build on its record of reviving these titles that started out as huge hits in the animated realm.”

The opening puts it in the top tier of Disney remakes, with a similar performance to 2019’s “Aladdin,” though it was well short of 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened to more than $170 million, and 2019 “The Lion King,” which brought in more than $190 million in its opening weekend.

The public thought it paid off. The film had an A CinemaScore and according to the exit poll had more ticket buyers between the ages of 25 and 34 than children, suggesting that nostalgic adults were essential.

“The multigenerational component of this cannot be overstated,” Dergarabedian said.

Critics were more lukewarm. The film currently sits at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. In her review, Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press called it “a somewhat boring bioluminescence-sparkling venture” that like too many of Disney’s remakes “prioritised nostalgia and familiarity over compelling visual storytelling.”

He said Bailey, one half of sister R&B duo Chloe x Halle, continued to shine with a “great presence” and “great voice”.

Directed by Rob Marshall on a pre-release budget of $250 million, “The Little Mermaid” tells the story of a yearning, wayward daughter who makes a devil’s deal to trade her fins for a pair of legs. It features the songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, including “Part of Your World” and “Under the Sea,” that helped the original film spark a renaissance of Disney animation in the 1990s.

Fourth place went to the movie “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” by Universal, which continues to reach new heights in its eighth weekend. Now available to rent on VOD, it still earned $6.3 million in theaters. Its combined total of $559 million makes Mario and Luigi the biggest earners of the year so far.

Comics couldn’t stand Ariel as the week’s other new releases sank.

“The Machine,” an action comedy starring stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer, finished fifth with $4.9 million domestically. And “About My Father,” the broad comedy starring stand-ups Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro, was sixth with $4.3 million.

It’s unclear whether the “Little Mermaid” will have legs – or fins – in the future. Next week sees the release of the animated “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” with “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” coming the following week.


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