In September 2021, it was first revealed that songwriter Alan Menken was creating four new songs for the upcoming live-action adaptation of the beloved animated classic, The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey in the lead role of Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, and Javier Bardem as Triton. The film will feature fan-favorite songs from the original plus four new songs penned by Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who have never collaborated before.
At D23 Expo, Walt Disney Studios presented the first teaser trailer for the highly anticipated live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, which will be swimming onto the big screen in May 2023. Attendees were also treated to a sneak peek of the film’s “Part of Your World” sequence, which was presented by director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods), who took a break from post-production to share the clip with D23 guests and announce some new details about the films.
Because the live-action film aims to honor the original beauty of the animated classic while bringing more depth to the characters, The Little Mermaid will have four new song that “open up the film in a completely different way,” said Marshall.
Rob Marshall Says Directing Little Mermaid Is Fate
A longtime Disney collaborator, Rob Marshall also shared with D23 Expo attendees why he signed on to direct the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. He recalled that, in 1989, when he saw the original film there was a lot of “excitement to hear a musical again” because musicals were “sort of dead at that point,” adding that he “could hear people singing” in the theater as they watched the animated film.
Inspired by the memory throughout his career, the Tony Award-winning director added that he wanted to replicate the audience experience when Marshall started directing on Broadway:
Years later when I did Chicago, I felt the same kind of excitement that live-action musicals were returned. So when Disney asked me to do this, it felt like this incredible moment because of this connection. It just felt like fate, so here we are.
Bailey later joined Marshall on stage, adding portraying the iconic mermaid is a lifelong goal. 1989’s The Little Mermaid holds a very special place in Disney history as it kicked off the famous Walt Disney Feature Animation Renaissance when the studio produced a significant number of critically and commercially successful animated films and television series.