‘The Little Mermaid’ Fails in China and South Korea as Moviegoers Choose Ariel’s Skin Tone


Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1989 animated film “The Little Mermaid” did poorly in the Chinese and South Korean markets, with some moviegoers expressing disappointment that Ariel was portrayed by a black actor.

What happened: “The Little Mermaid”, directed by Rob Marshall, performed poorly in Chinagrossing just $3.5 million since it opened on May 26. Some moviegoers attributed the poor reception to the casting of Halle Bailey, who is black, as the protagonist Ariel, who was portrayed as white in Disney’s original 1989 animated film.

What viewers are saying: A user of the Chinese review and rating platform Maoyan, where the film received a 7.5 out of 10 rating, wrote, “The ‘Little Mermaid’ in my mind is white.” Another user commented, “The fairy tale I grew up with has changed beyond recognition!”

The film was also rated 5.1 out of 10 on Douban, another Chinese review site.

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In South Korea and Japan: Likewise, many South Koreans were also negative in their reception of “The Little Mermaid.” A Instagram user poked fun at the live adaptation and said Bailey was “#NotMyAriel”. The film has only made $4.4 million since its May 24 release.

Although “The Little Mermaid” has yet to be released in Japan, where it is set to debut on June 9, some Japanese moviegoers are Already express displeasure with the main actor’s skin color.

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Overall performance: Despite the poor reception in China, South Korea and Japan, the adaptation would do well in other markets, such as the UK, where it grossed over $20 million. In Asia, the film performed better in the Philippines and Indonesia, with $4.3 and $4.04 million, respectively.

The big picture: The Little Mermaid” reportedly grossed around $332 million worldwide. The 1989 original does $211 million, or approximately $525 million after adjusting for inflation.

Disney’s two highest-grossing live-action adaptations, 2019’s ‘Aladdin’ and 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’, both exceeded one billion dollars brand around the world.

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