The Little Mermaid live-action adaptation received its first teaser trailer on Friday as part of the D23 expo. Disney has been refreshing its classic, iconic animated films in recent years, turning them into live-action movies heavy on CGI. Little Mermaid is no different, with star Halle Bailey playing the titular mermaid named Ariel and carrying all the hope of living on the surface with her into the role.
According to Deadline, Bailey admitted that today was her first time seeing footage from the film, coming to theaters on May 26, 2023, from Walt Disney Pictures. A reason for this could be how Bailey is the only live-action portion of the teaser, as her tail and the undersea kingdom isn’t exactly real on the screen. Still, she seems to be having a blast with the film and calls one specific aspect the “most beautiful experience” she’s had in life.
“I’m sure all of you in here can relate to Ariel and how special she is to all of us,” Bailey said at D23. “Being a little girl swimming in the pool, imagining I was a mermaid, I never imagined that would come to life [like this]. … The three days filming ‘Part of Your World’ was the most beautiful experience of my life – feeling all the feelings she feels, her passion, discomfort, everything she’s experiencing. It was so exciting for me to play those emotions and to have Rob directing me and being such a moving force on this film was really an honor.”
The live-action film takes its cues from the classic 1989 animated film based on the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Ariel is out for love, humanity and the surface world in the story, eventually making a deal with the evil witch Ursula and almost losing her undersea life for good. Director Rob Marshall told the D23 crowd that he has a “special connection” to the original The Little Mermaid.
“I don’t know if you remember the excitement to hear a musical again. It was sort of dead – musicals were gone. Even though it was animated, we could hear people singing again and again. … When Disney asked me to do this, it felt like this incredible moment. It felt like fate,” Marshall said. The director is hoping to replicate his Oscar-nominated success from Mary Poppins Returns.
The Little Mermaid will hit theaters in May 2023 with Bailey as Ariel, Melissa McCarthy playing Ursula, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric and Javier Bardem as Ariel’s father, King Triton. Development for the film started in 2016 and has been in progress throughout the pandemic. It is the latest live-action reboot, following Pinocchio, Cruella in 2021 and Mulan in 2020.