The Mouse House’s movies have always taught us that, just when they seem down for the count, Disney princesses will win out in the end, and that’s exactly what’s happened with 2023’s The Little Mermaid. The live-action remake of the beloved 1990 animation was beset with small-minded but loud-mouthed backlash in the run-up to and throughout its theatrical run due to the hiring of the (phenomenally talented and perfectly cast) Halle Bailey as the previously Caucasian Ariel.
While it’s hard to say how much that impacted its slightly underwhelming domestic box office gross, it certainly did internationally, with several Asian markets dismissing the film due to its diverse cast — although that doesn’t include the Philippines where it was a huge hit. Thankfully, The Little Mermaid is having the last laugh as it swims onto streaming around the globe, though. Across its first week on Disney Plus, it managed to accrue 16 million views, which makes it the platform’s largest debut of 2023 and one of its biggest ever.
Clearly, now that it’s able to be watched at home, The Little Mermaid is finding a whole new audience to enchant, likely including a young generation who — for whatever reason — might not have got the chance to see it on the big screen. As one spot-on reaction to the news of its Disney Plus success put it, “The racist parents who didn’t want to take their kids to see The Little Mermaid in [theater], couldn’t stop their children from watching it at home.”
Unfortunately, due to its enormous $265 million price tag, even earning just shy of $570 million around the world (a recent re-release didn’t quite move the needle as planned) and going down as the seventh highest-grossing of Disney’s remakes to date meant The Little Mermaid‘s theatrical run was something of a disappointment. However, its warm reception on streaming proves that Bailey’s Ariel may have lost the initial battle but she’ll win the war and likely continue to delight audiences for years to come, much like Jodi Benson’s original before her.