Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” is beginning its box office swim with $10.3 million in previews. It opens in 4,320 theaters on Friday.
Thursday’s preview haul is the seventh-highest ever for a G- or PG-rated movie. “The Little Mermaid” also picked up $850,000 from Wednesday early access screenings.
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Starring singer and actor Halle Bailey as Ariel, the new movie is projected to open with $100 million this holiday weekend. With Memorial Day on Monday, its four-day total could land between $120 million and $125 million.
“The Little Mermaid” is expected to make a big splash as one of Disney’s more successful live-action remakes. In comparison, Disney’s most recent remake, the 2019 photorealistic and computer animated “The Lion King,” roared with a $191 million opening from $23 million in previews. It went on to make more than $1 billion globally. And just a couple months before “The Lion King” released, the live-action “Aladdin” opened with $117 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend (from $7 million in previews) and also cracked $1 billion worldwide.
But Disney also has a few remake duds under its belt. The live-action “Mulan” opened at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and settled for a Disney+ Premier Access release, and “Pinocchio” and “Peter Pan & Wendy” both landed exclusively on Disney+.
“The Little Mermaid,” with a budget of around $250 million, is fishing for a return to box office glory for Disney’s remakes, and it will easily take the No. 1 spot from last week’s champion, “Fast X.” The Universal action sequel, after its soft $67 million opening, will drift into second place with an estimated $27 million to $30 million in its second weekend.
The Disney cast includes Melissa McCarthy as the evil sea witch Ursula, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian the crab, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder the fish and Awkwafina as Scuttle the seabird.
Lionsgate’s “About My Father,” a low-budget comedy starring Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro, opened to $285,000 in previews and is on track to make $5 million in its first weekend.
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