‘The Little Mermaid’ Scores $117.5 Million Memorial Day Launch But Misfires Overseas

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Disney’s latest is among the top five openings for the holiday weekend, but its overseas opening is 44% below that of the 2019 “Aladdin” remake

Ursula The Little Mermaid 2023

Disney’s remake of “The Little Mermaid” is swimming along at the domestic box office with a $117.5 million four-day opening weekend this Memorial Day, but it will fall well short of other Disney Renaissance remakes released before the pandemic as it is earning poor overseas returns.

Domestically, “The Little Mermaid” is just topping the $116 million four-day opening of the “Aladdin” remake earned on Memorial Day 2019 to join the top five highest opening weekends for this holiday period. With Halle Bailey playing Ariel, the film’s PostTrak demographic breakdown is 35% Black with 33% white, 23% Latino and 9% Asian/other, with 68% female and 42% families.

The film is also enjoying strong audience reception in the U.S. with an A on CinemaScore, a 91% rating on PostTrak and 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There’s a good chance that “Little Mermaid” can keep legging out even against Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and Paramount’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” given the female-majority audience doesn’t have significant overlap with those films.

But long domestic legs may not be enough to make “Little Mermaid” seriously profitable against its $250 million production budget as the film has opened overseas to just $68 million from 51 markets, down 44% from the $121 million overseas opening of “Aladdin,” which went on to gross $1.05 billion worldwide. The film was particularly DOA in Korea, China and Germany, where it failed to gross more than $3 million.

Universal’s “Fast X” is in second with a $28.6 million four-day total as the movie continues to perform behind the pace of pandemic-era predecessor “F9” with $113.5 million grossed in North America. By comparison, “F9” had a two-weekend total of $122 million. Globally, “Fast X” has passed the $500 million mark but might not have enough legs to turn a theatrical profit against its COVID-inflated $340 million production budget before marketing.

Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” nearly beat “Fast X” on the charts in its fourth weekend with $25.3 million grossed over four days, enough to push the trilogy finale past $300 million domestic and $725 million worldwide.

Universal/Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is in fourth with $6.2 million in its eighth weekend, pushing the film to just shy of $561 million domestic and $1.27 billion worldwide. In the coming days, the film will pass the unadjusted $1.28 billion total earned by “Frozen” 10 years ago to take the No. 3 spot on the global all-time box office charts for animated films.

Screen Gems/Legendary’s “The Machine” starring Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill is in fifth with a $6 million opening from 2,105 theaters, followed by Lionsgate’s “About My Father” starring Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro with a $5.3 million opening from 2,464 theaters.

Open Road/Briarcliff’s Afghanistan war film “Kandahar” is in eighth with just a $3 million four-day opening from 2,105 theaters, while A24’s dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” from writer-director Nicole Holofcener is earning a $1.73 million four-day opening from just 912 theaters.