The Little Mermaid

Source: © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc

‘The Little Mermaid’

Worldwide box office May 26-28

RankFilm (distributor) 3-day (world)  Cume (world) 3-day (int’l) Cume (int’l)Territories
 1.  The Little Mermaid (Disney)  $163.8m  $163.8m  $68.3m  $68.3m  52
 2.  Fast X (Universal)  $110.2m  $507.2m  $87.2m  $399.3m  85
 3.  Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (Disney)  $45m  $731m  $25.1m  $431.6m  53
 4.  The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Universal)  $19.3m  $1.2bn  $13.1m   $717.8m  82
 5.  Godspeed (various)  $6.8m  $146.6m  $6.8m  $146.6m  7
 6.  The Machine (Sony)  $4.9m  $4.9m  -  -   1
 7.  About My Father (Lionsgate)  $4.5m  $4.5m  $0.3m  $0.3m   16
 8.  Sword Art Online: Progressive - Scherzo Of Deep Night (various)  $3.7m  $15.5m   $3.7m  $14.4m  7
 9.  Kandahar (various)  $3.6m  $3.6m  $1.2m  $1.2m  11
 10.  Rohan Kishibe Goes To The Louvre (various)  $3m  $3m  $3m  $3m  1

Credit: Comscore. All figures are estimates.

‘The Little Mermaid’ proves stronger in home market than overseas

A strong debut in the domestic North America market and a weaker one internationally is the verdict on Disney’s launch of its The Little Mermaid remake. The musical adventure has begun with an estimated three-day $95.5m in North America, and $118m including the Monday Memorial Day holiday (May 26-29). For international, the estimate is a rather tepid-looking $68.3m from 51 markets.

For Disney, The Little Mermaid represents a return to a theatrical strategy for the studio’s live-action remakes, after the likes of Peter Pan & Wendy, Pinocchio and Lady And The Tramp released via Disney+, while Niki Caro’s Mulan remake was a hybrid release in Covid-disrupted 2020. (Cruella was a theatrical release in 2021, but hardly qualifies as a remake of the beloved One Hundred And One Dalmatians animation.)

In North America, the result for The Little Mermaid represents the fifth-best debut of all time for a film over Memorial Day weekend. In international markets, the individual-territory achievements are of a lesser order – for example, the third-highest opening of 2023 so far in Spain and Argentina, and the fourth-highest this year in Italy, Brazil and Mexico.

For international, Mexico leads the way with an estimated $8.5m, ahead of UK/Ireland ($6.3m), Italy ($4.7m), Brazil ($4.0m) and Australia ($4.0m). South Korea ($2.8m) and China ($2.5m) are only respectively the eighth- and tenth-biggest launching markets, and both have been hit by a pattern of negative “review bombing”, seemingly related to the casting of a Black actress (Halle Bailey) in the title role.

Meanwhile Internet Movie Database offers the following statement: “Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.”

At time of writing, over 40% of the votes accorded the film the lowest possible score (1 out of 10), dragging down the unweighted mean average to 4.7. The website’s adjusted score (where, presumably, votes of users who have not already established a strong and balanced voting record over time are filtered out) at time of writing was 7.0.

The original 1989 The Little Mermaid animation performed better in North America ($111.5m) than in international markets ($99.8m) – but that perhaps reflects the state of the global cinema market at the time for Disney, rather than balance of intrinsic interest in this particular story.

Disney’s lucrative run of live-action (or photorealistic) remakes of animated classics has seen varied balances between domestic and international outcomes. The Beauty And The Beast (2017) was notably strong in North America ($504.5m, versus $761.6m for international). Conversely, Dumbo in 2019 saw international box office ($238.5m) more than double the domestic number ($114.8m), and the same international-weighted pattern was achieved that year by The Lion King: $543.6m in North America and $1.12bn for international.

‘Fast X’ slows in second session – but reaches $507m

UPDATED: While North America is doing the heavy lifting so far on behalf of The Little Mermaid, the international market continues to show the way for Universal’s Fast X. Not only was the international total for the weekend (a confirmed $86.6m) bigger than for North America ($23.1m), but the percentage fall from the opening session was also gentler: down 58% for international markets, and down 66% for domestic.

Cumulative totals are as follows: $107.9m in North America and $399.0m for international, combining to deliver $507.0m worldwide after two weekends of play.

In China, where The Little Mermaid debuted with just $2.5m (see above), Fast X stayed top of the box office with $17.4m in its second session, taking the total there to $108.8m. China leads the international league table for cumulative totals on the title, ahead of Mexico ($28.1m), Brazil ($17.5m), Japan ($14.6m) and UK/Ireland ($12.6m).

With $507.0m so far, Fast X has every chance of matching the $726.2m global total for previous franchise entry Fast & Furious 9, which released in 2021 into a market that was still recovering from the Covid pandemic. Spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, which released prior to the pandemic in 2019 and grossed $760.7m, could be another target for the film, while Fast & Furious 6 grossed $788.7m in 2013.

The seventh film in the series, Furious 7, which saw the franchise bid goodbye to Vin Diesel’s original co-star Paul Walker, remains the highest-grossing, with $1.52bn worldwide. Next comes that film’s immediate successor F8 (aka The Fate Of The Furious), with $1.24bn.

‘Guardians Of The Galaxy 3’ hits $659m globally

Disney’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 added an estimated $45.1m globally in its fourth session, taking the total so far to $731.0m. It’s the second-highest-grossing global release of 2023 to date, behind Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

The space adventure fell a slim 38% in North America on a like-for-like three-day comparison (ie not including Memorial Day box office), and dropped 49% in international markets. Box office totals are respectively $299.4m and $431.6m.

China leads the international ranking for cumulative totals on Vol 3 with $79.8m, ahead of UK/Ireland ($39.8m), Mexico ($33.7m), South Korea ($30.2m) and France ($26.6m).

Vol 3 is now 85% of the way to matching the $863.8m lifetime total of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, and 95% of the way to reaching the $773.4m achieved by the original Guardians Of The Galaxy in 2014.

‘Super Mario’ poised to become second biggest animation of all time

UPDATED: The eighth weekend of release for Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie sees the film reach a worldwide total of $1.278bn – now ranking in 20th place in the list of highest-grossing films of all time.

One place above it in the all-time global ranking is Frozen, with $1.285bn – meaning that the Super Mario film only needs to add another $6m to catch it. When it does so, the Illumination/Nintendo collaboration will become the second-biggest animated film of all time, behind only Frozen II ($1.45bn).

The latest weekend saw The Super Mario Bros. Movie add $20.2m worldwide and $13.8m internationally for a $718.5m tally, boosted by a belated $2.2m debut in Poland.