‘The Little Mermaid’ Takes Victory Lap at Box Office After Drowning Out Competition

The Little Mermaid (Disney)

The Little Mermaid swam past the competition to one of the best openings ever at the Memorial Day weekend box office. The film rang up an estimated $95.5 million in ticket sales from Friday-Sunday and an expected 4-day domestic total of $117.5 million, according to Comscore.

The live-action remake of the 1989 animated Disney classic played in 4,320 locations, for a per theater average of $22,106. Its 4-day total marks the 5th highest Memorial Day weekend opening of all-time.

The movie tells the story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure.

Singer and actress Halle Bailey leads the cast as Ariel, who longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea. While visiting the surface, she falls for dashing Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King. The main cast also includes Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem.

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Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns) directed the film from a script written by David Magee (A Man Called Otto, Mary Poppins Returns).

Bailey, now 23, was cast in 2019.

After an extensive search for an actress to take on the iconic role of Ariel, Marshall said at the time, “It was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance — plus a glorious singing voice.”

But some racists and die-hard fans of the animated classic took issue with her casting and accused the studio of “ruining” the story by giving the role to a Black woman as the fictional redhead.

Bailey, who is African American, brushed aside the negativity and cheerfully promoted the film.

Critics gave the movie mostly positive reviews and a 67 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. Many praised the performances and described the remake as a “wonderful addition to the story,” “dependable,” and “dazzling.” But other critics lamented that the movie was “dramatically vacant,” with “flat and washed out” visuals.

The Little Mermaid debuted with $68 million overseas this weekend, for a global 3-day haul of $163.5 million. The film has a reported production budget of $250 million, so it will need to continue generating strong ticket sales to turn a profit.

Elsewhere at the box office, last week’s leader Fast X slowed to a crawl for a second place finish with just $23 million after debuting last weekend with $67.07 million.

Third place went to Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, which earned $19.9 million in its fourth weekend of release.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie was fourth with $6.2 million in its eighth week.

Sony and Legendary’s R-rated action comedy The Machine made a muted debut with $4.9 million from Friday-Sunday. The film stars comedian Bert Kreischer as a fictionalized version of himself. Mark Hamill co-stars. The movie played in 2,409 locations, for a per theater average of $2,034. But on the flip side, it only cost about $20 million to produce.

The news was even worse for the Gerard Butler action film Kandahar. The thriller about an undercover CIA operative stuck deep in hostile territory in Afghanistan opened with a dismal $2.4 million over the weekend for a seventh place finish.

Check out the box office chart below from Comscore.

Box Office Chart for May 28 (Credit: Comscore)