Last summer, the news broke that Disney was remaking its classic 1989 animation The Little Mermaid, with help from original composer Alan Menken and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Considering the length of time it generally requires to shoot and produce a Disney blockbuster, it was something of a surprise to see the first trailer for a live-action Little Mermaid – starring British actors Poppy Drayton and William Moseley – drop this week.
Even more surprising, however, was the fact that the film in question seemed to be nothing at all like Disney’s classic animation. Rather than Jamaican crustaceans, cute fishy sidekicks, a voiceless redhead and a fabulously evil drag queen-inspired villainess, this version of The Little Mermaid features the following:
- Twinkly, atmospheric background music
- A tremble-voiced Shirley MacLaine telling two cherubic American children that they’d believe in mermaids if they’d actually met one
- An old-timey newsroom occupied by a gruff New Yoik editor telling a terribly British reporter (Moseley) to pack his bags and go to Mississippi to write a story about a “mermaid”
- Another cherubic American child
- A steam train
- A circus
- A beautiful circus performer (Drayton) whose whole routine involves her pretending to be a mermaid in a big tank of water
- An evil ringmaster who – no spoilers – may possibly have stolen the fake mermaid’s soul
The lack of resemblance between this Little Mermaid and the Disney cartoon is probably down to the fact that this isn’t a Disney production at all. Rather, it’s produced by Conglomerate Media and Kingsway Productions, and purportedly inspired by the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
The film’s producers explain that the plot centres on an orphan (one of the aforementioned cherubic American children, played by Loreto Peralto) who becomes convinced that a beautiful woman she meets is the real Little Mermaid.
“We’re thrilled to be launching MVP Studios with The Little Mermaid, a magical adventure that uses the beloved fairy tale as its jumping off point, but is an all-new story with all-new characters that the entire family can enjoy,” they said in a statement.
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This Little Mermaid is set for release sometime later this year. Disney’s retelling is still very much in the works, with no cast announced as yet – although Lindsay Lohan has been determinedly campaigning for the role of Ariel.
Universal Studios are also producing a third live-action remake of the Hans Christian Andersen story, with Chloë Grace Moretz once slated to play the little mermaid in question. She later pulled out, saying that she was taking time off from acting.