Why the Live-Action “The Little Mermaid” Was a Flop

  In late May, Disney’s live-action movie “The Little Mermaid” was on the hot search list with a domestic pre-sale box office of only 80,000 yuan. With an investment of 250 million U.S. dollars, the pre-sale results of the film with the golden signature of the Disney Princess series are so dismal, and the title is blocked and thought it is a niche literary film. However, such pre-sale results did not make people feel so surprised. Many netizens even joked that the 80,000 pre-sale box office estimated that more than half of the pre-sale box office was contributed by bloggers who made complaints about videos. The reason for this situation is not unrelated to the huge controversy since the filming of the film started. This is not only the case in the Chinese market, when the movie promotional film was first released, “The Little Mermaid” quickly broke the record of “dislikes” on foreign video sites, and received more than 2 million “dislikes” in a short period of time. The 360,000 “likes” below seem a bit pitiful.
  The box office of “The Little Mermaid” was not satisfactory after its release, although it performed well in the US market, winning nearly 140 million US dollars at the box office, surpassing the live-action “Aladdin” in 2019. But looking at the world, the box office of “The Little Mermaid” can be said to be unsatisfactory. After the United States, the box office of Mexico and the United Kingdom has not exceeded 100 million US dollars, and there are not many places in other regions that have even exceeded 50 million box office. As of June 2 Today, the global box office only exceeded 200 million U.S. dollars, which is in sharp contrast to Disney’s previous high-profile claim that “this is the most perfect “Little Mermaid” we have made so far.”
Live-Action Difficulties

  Except for “The Little Mermaid” which has a high rating in the United States, most movie websites in other countries gave it a failing grade. And the movie itself can only be regarded as a “popcorn work at the Disney assembly line level”, not even high-level, because from the perspective of special effects, the movie is not satisfactory. The main underwater world is due to the use of post-production “pseudo 3D”, which leads to the overall blackness of the underwater picture, and the underwater special effects are dwarfed by the “Avatar: Way of Water” some time ago. The magnificent underwater palace in the animated version The other scenes are not well presented, and there are suspicions of cutting corners. Strangely, as a film mainly for children, the overall atmosphere of “The Little Mermaid” is rendered extremely scary in the opening stage, with dark pictures, weird soundtrack, and “jump scare” techniques (jump scares) that appear from time to time, People once thought it was a horror movie. Perhaps in this atmosphere, the black-skinned mermaid Ariel with “dirty braids” is not so obtrusive.
  The live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” has been increased from 89 minutes in the animation to 135 minutes, and some settings have been added and modified. For example, the villain witch Ursula has become the sister of the mermaid king, and the king on land has also been adapted into a black-skinned one. The queen, in order to make the setting reasonable, the prince became the adopted son of the queen. However, these settings did not enrich the plot of the film, but created many loopholes, such as the added story line of the prince and queen: the contradiction between the prince who yearns for the ocean and the queen who rejects the ocean seems to enrich the two. However, it is very unreasonable for the queen to reject the sea in a kingdom that is close to the sea and mainly trades; for example, in the animated version, everyone works together to break the witch’s disguise, dispel the prince’s magic, and help Ariel regain her voice. In the bridge section, the friends in the ocean help the “Daughter of the Sea” together. However, in the live-action version, the heroine personally stepped forward to “trick each other’s heads” with the villain, more like “the original partner tearing up the mistress” in modern idol dramas; in the animation, in addition to the love between the prince and the princess, there are also rebellious The conflict between Ariel and the father who overprotects his daughter, and the reconciliation between the father and daughter at the end is also the highlight moment of the film. In live-action movies, it seems that everyone has degenerated into a “love brain”.
  The live-action adaptation of animated films has been the highlight of Disney in recent years. After all, with countless classic animated images in hand, there is nothing wrong with it, which can save costs and bring in a lot of box office revenue. And Disney has indeed had many classic adaptation cases. “Maleficent” presents the story of “Sleeping Beauty” from another angle, giving the former villain Maleficent a unique charm; “Beauty and the Beast” gave up the adaptation and used gorgeous visual effects to present the audience with a different texture from the animation; “Aladdin” brought the audience a more intense and independent Jasmine The princess, endowed her with the courage and self-improvement of modern women, and brought the character image to a new height. However, in the past two years, Disney seems to have taken a “detour” in the process of adaptation. The forced addition of the concept of “qi” and the image of the villain witch in the live-action version of “Mulan” has caused dissatisfaction among many viewers, while “The Little Mermaid” Many adaptations of “Forcibly Added Drama”. In the adaptation of live-action animation, there is still a problem that cannot be solved, that is, the exaggerated expressions and movements in the animation are difficult to restore in the live-action movie. For example, the classic images of Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa in “The Lion King” walking with their heads shaking their heads are particularly dull in live-action movies; the treasures in “Dumbo” also lack the spirituality in animation; similarly, in “The Little Mermaid” In “The Crab Sebastian and Flounder Xiaopang completely lost their luster, and Mushu in “Mulan” was simply deleted directly, and these images should have been very brilliant “atmosphere.” Of course, Disney’s live-action adaptation will not stop. How to find a balance between classics and innovations may be a topic that Disney will face for a long time.
other than “correct”

  When it comes to the movie “The Little Mermaid”, the issue of skin color cannot be circumvented anyway. The black-skinned Ariel is also one of the sources of huge controversy in this movie. In fact, not all Disney princesses are blond. Pocahontas in Pocahontas, Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, and Moana in Moana are all people of color. Far from causing controversy, these images of princesses have been universally welcomed. In the “Pirates of the Caribbean” also produced by Disney, the image of a black-skinned mermaid also appeared.
  In the animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Parallel Universe”, which was popular a few years ago, the black-skinned Spider-Man Miles has also been loved by audiences all over the world. It can be seen that the audience is not unacceptable to princesses or superheroes of different skin colors. Many people said that in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, the skin color of the Little Mermaid was not specified in detail, and if the story of the little mermaid was rewritten, the issue of skin color would not become the focus of debate. In the final analysis, the root of the controversy is that the classic image of the little mermaid Ariel in childhood was overturned in order to cater to a certain “correctness”, so many people’s childhood memories became victims of Disney’s catering to “correctness”.

  In fact, fairy tales will change with the times. For example, the famous fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” was originally collected and adapted by the French poet Charles Perrault. The first edition of “Little Red Riding Hood” can be said to be “very yellow and violent”; and In the era of the Brothers Grimm, with the impact of the Industrial Revolution, family and children’s education became more important, and “Little Red Riding Hood” became children’s literature. In addition to teaching children not to trust strangers, the newly added hunter image also objectively emphasizes Male authority; Later, with the rise of the feminist movement, the cartoon “Hot Little Red Riding Hood” with strong feminist features came into being. The same is true of the story of “The Little Mermaid”. In the version created by Andersen, in addition to the love story with the prince, the little mermaid’s longing for the “eternal soul” is also an important plot of the story, and the whole story has an extremely strong religious atmosphere; By 1989, the animated version of “The Little Mermaid” had become the adventurous and rebellious princess Ariel who pursued love and dreams independently. Moreover, in the animated version of “The Little Mermaid”, Ariel’s red hair is also considered a bold innovation, because in the West, physical characteristics such as red hair and green eyes have always been discriminated against, even in today’s live-action version of “Little Mermaid”. When “The Mermaid” was released, there was also a “skin and hair color” debate on foreign networks.

Above: The movie “Maleficent” is adapted from Disney’s old animation “Sleeping Beauty” in 1959. “Maleficent” presents the story of “Sleeping Beauty” from another angle, giving Maleficent the former villain unique charm. Bottom: Moana, the heroine in Moana, is loved by everyone despite being a person of color.

  Therefore, the skin color of the live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” is actually not important, nor is it the core issue of controversy. The real problem is that in recent years in the West, in order to cater to certain “correctness”, many people’s habits, cognitions and even preferences have been forcibly revised. And these “correctness” are not really for the sake of ethnic minorities, but have become crude shields, and what’s more, they have become tools for hype and show. In front of this “correct” city wall, no one dares to criticize, because “as long as criticism is discrimination, it is not correct.”
  On the American movie website IMBD and “Rotten Tomatoes”, a farce of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was also staged. People who praised this movie couldn’t tell what was good about this movie, and all those who rated it “one star” dared not say so. What’s wrong with this movie is that everyone tacitly performed a large-scale performance art performance in a “correct” atmosphere. And this kind of “correctness” is not true respect for ethnic minorities. The dispute over skin color has also become the “blame the blame” for movie quality and box office. The seemingly “correct” choice has made the opportunities for minorities less and less, and the situation has become more and more difficult. Disney, on the other hand, is hiding behind this shield called “correctness”, earning traffic and counting money.

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