The Little Mermaid: Release date, cast, and plot for Disney's live action remake

Are you ready to part of that (live action) world?

The title treatment for The Little Mermaid (Disney)
The title treatment for The Little Mermaid (Disney)

She’s almost ready to be a part of our world all over again, with the release of the live-action version of The Little Mermaid swimming onto the horizon.

Fans have been speculating what the latest Disney live-action remake will look like since its initial announcement back in 2016, with production officially beginning in early 2021. After being delayed due to the pandemic, the main body of filming took place at London’s famous Pinewood Studios.

Set to define our favourite fictional mermaid in a completely new way, fan opinions have already been divisive through the high-profile production process.

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Here’s everything we know about The Little Mermaid so far.

The Little Mermaid release date

The Little Mermaid currently has a UK and US release date of 26 May, 2023.

Disney fans are having to wait a little longer than expected to head back under the sea, with the film’s original filming schedule being delayed twice by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Halle Bailey is Ariel in Disney's live action The Little Mermaid. (Disney)
Halle Bailey is Ariel in Disney's live action The Little Mermaid. (Disney)

As of yet, there’s no set home release date for The Little Mermaid, but expect it to make its streaming debut on Disney+.

The Little Mermaid cast

THE MOST MAGICAL STORY ON EARTH: 50 YEARS OF WALT DISNEY WORLD - In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, ABC will present a spectacular television event, The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World, taking viewers on a historical journey spanning half a century and beyond at Walt Disney World in Florida. Hosted by Disney Legend and moderator of ABCs The View, Whoopi Goldberg, the two-hour program will feature spectacular visuals and musical performances from Christina Aguilera and Disneys The Little Mermaid Halle Bailey in front of the legendary Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park, accompanied by the renowned Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra; as well as interviews with iconic actors, actresses and athletes, Walt Disney World cast members, Disney Imagineers and executives past and present, who have all played their unique part in sprinkling pixie dust over The Most Magical Place on Earth. The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World airs FRIDAY, OCT. 1 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Matt Stroshane/ABC via Getty Images)HALLE BAILEY
Halle Bailey pictured at Walt Disney World. (Matt Stroshane/ABC via Getty Images)

If there’s one thing the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid makes clear, it’s that the film will feature a heavily star-studded cast.

In 2019, Halle Bailey was announced to play the leading role of Ariel, who is best known for being a member of the R&B duo Chloe x Halle. She’s previously worked with Disney in a role on Let It Shine, with further acting credits including Grown-ish and Last Holiday.

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Bridesmaids favourite Melissa McCarthy will star as Ursula, while the role of Prince Eric will be played by Little Women’s Jonah Hauer-King.

Melissa McCarthy will play Ursula for Rob Marshall in 'The Little Mermaid'. (Credit: Hopper Stone/Warner Bros/Disney)
Melissa McCarthy will play Ursula for Rob Marshall in The Little Mermaid' (Hopper Stone/Warner Bros/Disney)

Javier Bardem of No Country For Old Men and Skyfall fame will also be appearing as King Triton. Although the film is primarily live-action, there will also be a number of notable voice roles.

Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs will be taking up the role of Sebastian, while Room star Jacob Tremblay will play opposite as Ariel’s other faithful sidekick Flounder.

Ocean’s 8 actor Awkwafina is additionally voicing the role of Scuttle, changing to a female diving bird rather than the male seagull seen in the original adaptation.

Who are the production team behind The Little Mermaid?

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid. (Disney)

Spearheading the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is director Rob Marshall.

He’s previously worked on projects including Mary Poppins Returns, Into The Woods, and Chicago, having received Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations for all three films.

Read more: Original Little Mermaid defends remake casting

Marshall is joined by Hamilton and Encanto songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has confirmed that none of the original hit songs — including Part Of Your World and Kiss The Girl — will be replaced.

Lin-Manual Miranda and Rob Marshall attend Disney's Mary Poppins Returns Paris Gala Screening, 2018. (Getty Images For Disney)
Lin-Manual Miranda and Rob Marshall attend Disney's Mary Poppins Returns Paris Gala Screening, 2018. (Getty Images For Disney)

Famed composer Alan Menken will also be returning to the project, hinting that there will be “four new songs” in addition to fan favourites.

Marshall and Miranda are also producers for The Little Mermaid, and are joined by Marc Platt and John DeLuca.

What do we know about The Little Mermaid’s plot?

King Triton, Ariel and Flounder in 1989's The Little Mermaid. (Disney/Alamy)

Following in the footsteps of other Disney live-action remakes such as Aladdin and Mulan, fans can expect that most of the main classic elements of The Little Mermaid will remain the same.

It’s likely the viewers will notice a few small changes along the way, particularly given the inclusion of multiple new songs in the film’s soundtrack. Characters have also been modified to fit the new 2023 cast.

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The official Disney synopsis reads:

“The Little Mermaid is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea, and while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric.

Ariel falls for Prince Eric in 1989's The Little Mermaid. (Disney)

"While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.”

Is there a trailer for The Little Mermaid?

Though a full-length trailer for the film has yet to be released, Disney released a teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid in early September. Watch it above.

The teaser shows a glimpse of the watery world under the sea, hinting at the quality of CGI that fans are likely to see.

Ariel is shown to be swimming through a shipwreck up to the ocean’s surface, singing a few lines from Part Of Your World.

The Little Mermaid is coming to UK cinemas on 26 May, 2023.

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