You can go ahead and add The Little Mermaid to the long list of live-action Disney fairytales in development at the House of Mouse.
Two weeks (and change) out from the long-anticipated arrival of The Lion King, and the Powers That Be have officially cast singer-actress Halle Bailey as Ariel, the rebellious daughter of King Triton who longs to live on dry land. To do so, she must journey ‘under da sea,’ where Bailey will join a who’s who of Hollywood talent, including Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina, all of whom are said to be in the final stages of negotiation.
Rob Marshall, fresh off his stint on Disney’s Mary Poppins sequel – the aptly titled Mary Poppins Returns – steps behind the camera to direct this one, with production on The Little Mermaid expected to commence in the early stages of 2020. In a statement, the director welcomed Bailey’s casting with open arms, saying:
After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.
Whether that “extensive search” actually included Lindsay Lohan and Lady Gaga (!) is another question entirely, but it is clear now that Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid movie is beginning to pick up some steam.
An early 2020 production start would place the movie on course for a release sometime in 2021 – likely in the same March window as Tim Burton’s Dumbo. Just don’t expect to spot any set pics emerging from The Little Mermaid; this being a production heavily reliant on CG and other digital wizardry, Bailey and her newfound co-stars will spend much of their time in the recording booth, meaning it’ll be some time before we actually see the fruits of their labor.
But, as always, stay tuned for more.