The Little Mermaid Marks Disney’s Worst 2023 Opening in China

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King as Ariel and Prince Eric in Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has completed its opening weekend. While the film has proven to be a hit in most territories, its box office take shows that the blockbuster, like many Hollywood projects, is struggling in China.

According to EntGroup, The Little Mermaid ended its opening weekend in China with $2.63 million, making it the lowest-earning Disney release so far this year. For comparison, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever earned $5.9 million over it’s opening weekend, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania earned $19 million and the more recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 earned $27 million.


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The Little Mermaid Was Predicted to Flop

Early estimates for The Little Mermaid‘s performance in China suggested the film would not succeed with Chinese moviegoers. This stemmed from the fact that, pre-sales leading up to the opening amounted to just $13,000. On opening day, the Disney film earned a total of $550,000. Moreover, the statistics show that there is a steady decline in the number of theaters playing The Little Mermaid in China, though this is subject to change and it may be too soon to tell whether the film will see an early exit from theaters.

At the beginning of 2023, China ended what appeared to be a virtual ban on Hollywood films, allowing major releases such as the aforementioned Disney films, as well as Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves and more into theaters. Currently, Fast X is dominating the Chinese box office with its cumulative total of $113 million at the time of writing.

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A Disney Success at the Box Office

But while The Little Mermaid appears to be rapidly losing audiences in China, it enjoyed a hugely successful weekend elsewhere. In the U.S, the film grossed an impressive $118 million over its 4-day Memorial Day weekend, for a worldwide total of $185.8 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

When it comes to its critical reception, reviews have been mixed. Most critics praised star Halle Bailey’s dramatic and musical performance as Princess Ariel, but criticized the film’s length and writing, describing it as overall unimaginitive. Furthermore, the film’s focus on realism when it came to its aesthetic, was also slammed by critics. This followed backlash from audiences when clips and images from the film revealed realistic crab and fish designs for Sebastian and Flounder.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid is playing in theaters now.

Source: EntGroup, THR


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