Similar to other Disney live-action films, The Little Mermaid has a relatively high production budget at around $250 million, according to Deadline sources. In addition, the Mouse family also spent about 140 million USD on the promotional campaign when bringing the film to global theaters. With that huge cost, Halle Bailey’s debut film is expected to need between $ 625 million and $ 650 million to break even when it hits theaters.
This target level is relatively large given the recent box office market situation, especially after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, for Disney, that number is a reasonable goal and it is not natural that they risk a large amount of money on this project. Live-action films have been a “money-making” segment of the Rat family over the years despite receiving many controversies over quality. Works like Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King all surpassed the billion-dollar mark without too much difficulty.
Before its release, many international experts expected The Little Mermaid to achieve the same success. Some even predict the movie will easily make around $1 billion because the origin story is so popular. In addition, a series of early reviews from critics all rated the film well, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 71% prior to release.
The Little Mermaid’s Critical Weakness
The Little Mermaid opened impressively in the North American market with 118 million USD after 4 days of release on Memorial Day. This achievement is similar to Aladdin’s first week revenue (117 million USD) and less than The Lion King (191 million USD). However, the film was not well received in many countries and international territories, especially China. The first week revenue of The Little Mermaid in the market of billions of people was $ 2.5 million, just equal to Aladdin’s odd number when he made 53 million here. According to ticketing site Maoyan, the mermaid Ariel is likely to earn only about $4 million after leaving the theater.
Not only that, The Little Mermaid is facing a strong boycott wave from many other countries such as Korea, France, Germany and even Vietnam. Many viewers were not satisfied when Disney changed many details about the appearance and character of the characters in the movie. In which, most commented that the female lead Halle Bailey was not suitable for the role of Ariel, although her acting and singing skills were not bad. The way to build the character of Prince Eric in the live-action part also did not win the sympathy of the audience.
The film’s international cume currently stands at $78 million. The Little Mermaid can also expect in some big markets such as Japan, Italy, Brazil… However, the reception of the audience in these countries is not too warm for Disney’s project. Before the movie was released, some sources predicted that the film could earn about 250 million USD in the international market. However, this goal is becoming far away as China and many countries with a developed film industry are indifferent to the work.
If it fails in international markets, the possibility of a big loss of Mermaid is very high. According to Deadline, Disney’s film is currently in a difficult situation when the domestic revenue (North America) and other countries are too big. It seems that only Americans pay attention to the film while many other places receive it not positively.
Obviously, The Little Mermaid is not originally a movie geared towards the tastes of markets outside of North America. This shortcoming became the deathbed of the team’s desire to be profitable. After the heavy impact of Covid-19, domestic revenue alone will be difficult to help Hollywood blockbusters make a profit or even break even. Last year, Avatar: The Way of Water crossed the $2 billion mark, but only made about $684 million in North America. Disney’s Little Mermaid is really hard to come by.
Is it due to the female lead’s appearance or the quality of the content?
In recent days, on film groups and forums, many people have argued about the reason why The Little Mermaid received a wave of negative reactions. A large part said that the film failed right from the stage of casting actors. Halle Bailey is clearly too different from Ariel in the animated version. Beyonce’s gifted voice and title of “inner disciple” are also difficult to save the young actress in a role that is clearly not suitable.
Halle Bailey’s Ariel appearance is the subject of controversy in The Little Mermaid
However, many viewers did not blame Halle Bailey, but said that the big mistake lies in the superficiality and laziness of the production team. The process of creating and choosing costumes for the characters was judged as a catastrophic failure. Some criticized Disney’s lack of creativity, too stereotyped making the live-action film become lifeless. The work does not retain the magical fairy substance that made the classic animation successful.
Deadline reports that the breakeven ability of The Little Mermaid is a big question mark. The film is now in a situation where it is almost certain that it will not be profitable if only the box office revenue is taken into account. Even with an extended stay in theaters, the lucky work has a chance to hit the milestone of about $550 million to $600 million. Not to mention that June is Hollywood’s blockbuster season with a series of big names like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Vers, Transformers 7, The Flash or Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Disney can still make more money through its online distribution, TV rights sales, and movie-related merchandise. However, this revenue also depends quite a lot on the performance of The Little Mermaid at the box office. One box office expert told Deadline: “The Little Mermaid’s box office isn’t a huge failure, merely disappointing, especially when placed next to Disney’s impressive track record with the type of film. recent live-action”.