‘The Little Mermaid’ Finishes At Top Of Box Office But Below Expectations Amid ‘Race-Swapping’ Criticism

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Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” live-action remake soared to the top of the box office in its first week, but still fell below opening expectations, according to multiple outlets.

The Little Mermaid earned $117.5 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, marking the fifth-highest Memorial Day weekend opening in history, according to Axios. The movie’s opening aligns with the “Aladdin” remake, which made roughly the same amount over the 2019 Memorial Day weekend.

However, the movie struggled to gain traction overseas. “The Little Mermaid” made $2.5 million in China, placing fifth behind the anime film “Sword Art Online The Movie,” Variety reported. The movie also earned $68.3 million overseas, which falls below the figure Disney had originally hoped, according to Deadline. (RELATED: NYT Reviewer Bemoans Lack Of ‘Kink’ In ‘Little Mermaid’ Remake)

Disney faced criticism over its decision to engage in a practice known as “race-swapping” the main character, Ariel, with some accusing the corporation of not staying true to the mermaid’s original depiction. Ariel has pale skin and red hair in the 1989 animated version, while Halle Bailey, the actress in the 2023 live-action remake, is black. The film further raised eyebrows following its decision to change the song lyrics to “Kiss the Girl” to appease modern sensibilities.

“There are some lyric changes in ‘Kiss the Girl’ because people have gotten very sensitive about the idea that [Prince Eric] would, in any way, force himself on [Ariel]. We have some revisions in ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ regarding lines that might make young girls somehow feel that they shouldn’t speak out of turn, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel to give up her voice,” the film’s composer, Alan Menken, told Vanity Fair in a March interview.