The Black ‘Little Mermaid’ Makes Huge Splash At The Box Office With $117.5M Debut

Disney’s The Little Mermaid made a huge impression in its Memorial Day domestic box office debut. Axios reports the live-action remake brought in $117.5 million as fans cheered on our new favorite Black Disney princess, Ariel, played by Halle Bailey. The movie was the fifth-highest Memorial Day weekend opening of all time.

The importance behind this must be noted. With its lead Black actress, The Little Mermaid received high praise by moviegoers, gaining a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Its debut was a great start to the summer box office season. Media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that while The Little Mermaid didn’t carry the same momentum as Oscar-nominee Top Gun: Maverick, which opened on Memorial Day in 2022, it was a healthy start.

The Little Mermaid powered a solid Memorial weekend frame that had multiplexes buzzing with activity over the holiday weekend and thus exposing patrons to trailers and in-theater marketing for the upcoming killer movie slate on tap through August,” Dergarabedian said.

While thousands of fans are melting over the romance between Ariel and Prince Eric, the movie is seeing some pushback overseas. In China, Ariel sang a different tune, bombing in the box office with a disappointing $2.5 million, beaten by Japan’s animation film Sword Art Online The Movie. China’s Global Times released an op-ed blaming Disney for the film’s poor performance, saying that casting a Black actor in the role was the reason behind it.

“Many Chinese netizens said that like ‘Snow White’ the image of the mermaid princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales has long been rooted in their hearts and it takes a leap of imagination to accept the new cast,” according to the publication.

The film bombed in other countries overseas including France, Korea, and Germany. Dergarabedian said the movie industry is still suffering from pre-pandemic sales by almost 25%, but he believes other summer hits will likely make up for it.

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