The Little Mermaid has topped the box office with a staggering $118 million opening weekend.
Halle Bailey, then just 22 years old, plays Ariel in the live-action remake of the 1980s Disney film, which also features Melissa McCarthy, Simone Ashley, Javier Bardem, and Awkwafina.
The news that Bailey will play the legendary part propelled her to the forefront of the media. There was a lot of excitement and a lot of criticism when it was first announced that the mythological mermaid Ariel would be cast as a Black woman.
After the controversy, Bailey responded to her detractors in a YouTube Q&A, where she said she wasn’t shocked by the remarks made against her casting.
As a Black person, it’s become something you anticipate and which seldom surprises you. When I was a small girl, I wanted to be a princess in every manner, and I want that for all the little girls who watch and identify with me.
Pre-release reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with one critic, Gillian Blum, going so far as to declare the film the “best Disney live-action adaptation” and urging audiences to see it as soon as it’s released.
To date, Disney’s live-action rendition of “The Little Mermaid” is the greatest there has been. If anybody embodies Ariel, it’s Halle Bailey.
Full credit to the sound department, please. Improvements, albeit there’s a new song that uses too much autotune. Under the Sea in this rendition is the best part of the entire show, she tweeted.
#TheLittleMermaid is the best Disney live-action adaptation to date. Halle Bailey IS Ariel. Major props to the sound effects team. Good changes, though one new song with too much autotune. Could watch this version’s Under the Sea all day, it was the highlight of the whole thing.
— Gillian Blum (@GillianBlum) May 9, 2023
All that acclaim seems to have paid off, as Variety reported that the picture made $38 million on its first day and $118 million during the four-day holiday weekend in the United States. According to the media source, the film had the sixth biggest opening of all time on Memorial Day.
Bailey recently discussed why she felt it was important to wear her natural hair in red dreadlocks for the part of Ariel, and fans were thrilled to see her do so.
The actress gave an interview to Ebony Magazine, which focuses on African-American news, culture, and entertainment, and in which she discussed the significance of her hair.
It was crucial that I wear my hair in its natural state for this film. I owe a great debt of gratitude to [filmmaker] Rob Marshall for insisting that I preserve my locs. Having a reliable cosigner is essential.
Since I was five years old, my locs have been an integral part of my identity. We have to see ourselves,” she added, adding, “We have to see our hair on enormous screens like this so that we know that it’s lovely and more than acceptable.”
Now playing in theatres is Disney’s The Little Mermaid.