Box Office: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Sprinting to $125M-Plus Memorial Day Debut

Box Office: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Sprinting to $125M-Plus Memorial Day Debut
May 2023

Disney's live-action remake, starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, is headed for the holiday weekend's fourth or fifth best opening of all time after earning $38 million on Friday.

The Little Mermaid is doing laps around the competition at the Memorial Day weekend box office after earning $38 million on Friday.

Disney's live-action remake of the iconic animated film is sprinting to a better-than-expected $125 million-plus debut, the holidays' fourth-biggest opening of all time, not adjusted for inflation. Some even show the movie earning more than $130 million, but Disney is remaining cautious and saying a range of $120 million to $130 million.

The Little Mermaid, which earned a promising A CinemaScore, is the first 2023 summer tenptole to target females, who made up 68 percent of Friday ticket buyers.

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Rob Marshall directs the live-action remake of Disney's beloved animated film. The new Little Mermaid stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, the spirited young mermaid who makes a dangerous deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) in order to experience life on land and meet the dashing Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). The pact, however, poses great risk to her father's watery kingdom.

The cast also includes Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni and Art Malik.

Bailey's performance as Ariel has drawn praise from critics amid a racist backlash from social media commenters protesting the casting of a Black actress in the title role. Disney insiders don't expect these protestations to hurt the film in North America but are waiting to see how the movie plays in certain overseas markets.

Heading into the weekend, The Little Mermaid was tracking to earn $120 million for the four-day holiday.

Last year's Top Gun: Maverick scored the biggest Memorial Day opening of all time with $160.5 million, followed by 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($153 million) and 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($152 million). The Little Mermaid should wrest fourth place from 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand ($122 million). In fifth place currently is 2013's Fast & Furious 6 ($117 million).

Overseas, Little Mermaid is tracking for an $80 million opening through Sunday.

Universal's Fast X will easily come in No. 2 as it crosses the $500 million mark at the global box office in its first 12 days of release.

Legendary and Screen Gems' action-comedy The Machine and Robert De Niro comedy About My Father are also opening nationwide but aren't expected to be big earners.

The Machine, from Screen Gems, stars Bert Kreischer and is inspired by the comedian's stand-up act of the same name. Mark Hamill co-stars in the film, which is pacing for a $6 million-$7 million four-day opening and a fifth-place finish.

About My Father looks to come in at No. 6 with a $5.5 million opening.