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Ariel and Prince Eric are back on the big screen with the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Families will be fueling its box office total, but when can parents expect to start streaming it on Disney+?
Halle Bailey (Grown-ish) stars as Ariel in this bold reimagining of the 1989 original animated character. This race-swapping decision made waves when first cast, an inclusive decision that helps diversify the Disney princess line-up.
Those princesses are a key feature of Disney’s streaming service. The Little Mermaid will eventually join films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King for having both original animated and live-action remakes available on Disney+.
In recent memory, Disney’s live-action remakes have been the company’s biggest successes at the box office, only behind the machine of Marvel Studios.
2019’s The Lion King did particularly well, earning over $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office. While The Little Mermaid most likely won’t reach those heights, the expectations are high for how well this film will perform in theaters.
Keeping that in mind, don’t expect to be able to buy this movie on Amazon Video or Vudu anytime soon. This is going to have a long run exclusively in theaters.
However, the definition of a “long-run” post-pandemic has changed. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is the highest-earning film of 2023 so far (and that may not change). It opened on Wednesday, April 5, dominated the April box office, and now is available to rent as of May 16.
That 41-day difference is a sign of the times. The film is still playing in theaters technically but has slowed to a halt as the May releases are taking up the vast majority of screens.
Similarly, The Little Mermaid will be making a strong run on opening weekend and in early June, especially with children and parents. Then, on June 16, Disney and Pixar’s new animated picture Elemental hits theaters, in many ways taking away from The Little Mermaid.
Nearing Independence Day, The Little Mermaid will likely be available to rent or buy on digital platforms. July 5 is an appropriate guess, 40 days after its opening in theaters and well after the wind has been taken out of its sails.
Disney+ has become a powerhouse of entertainment for the House of Mouse. Before, it was difficult to get a physical copy of an animated movie from the Disney Vault. But now, most of the movies are available at the click of a button on any TV.
The company has relied heavily on its streamer, especially through the pandemic. Marvel’s Black Widow released day-and-date in theaters and on Disney+ during Summer 2021. Additionally, some films that may have previously been made for theaters went directly to streaming: Turning Red, Pinocchio, Peter Pan & Wendy, and more.
A live-action remake like The Little Mermaid is a great business opportunity for Disney’s film division, offering a lot of potential to make money in theaters and a few months later bolster the streaming service. This is especially true for a film made for kids that has plenty of re-watchability, increasing the hours spent on the app.
For The Little Mermaid, Disney will try to squeeze out as much revenue from theaters and VOD/Blu-Ray sales before hitting the streamer. However, families who subscribe monthly will be anticipating its premiere on the streamer.
Factoring in recent trends by Disney and other studios with streaming services, Wednesday, August 16 is a possible debut date for The Little Mermaid on Disney+.
This would equate to 82 days after splashing into theaters, similar to the recent window Marvel films have had between opening in theaters and streaming on Disney+.
The Little Mermaid is now playing in theaters worldwide.