Little Mermaid 2023 Box Office: Is It a Major Flop for Disney?

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
Little Mermaid 2023 Disney

Disney's The Little Mermaid has finished its theatrical run at the box office, but was it a success or a major flop for the studio?

Starring Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid comes as Disney's latest remake of an animated classic that endeavors to follow the massive success of The Lion King, Alladin, and Beauty and the Beast, all of which grossed over $1 billion.

Almost three months after its May 26 release date, the underwater musical is about to make its way to Disney+ at the start of September.

Did 2023's Little Mermaid Turn a Profit for Disney?

Little Mermaid fish swimming

Disney's blockbuster live-action remakes have notably been rather expensive for the studio, with The Little Mermaid carrying a $250 million production budget and a $140 million marketing spend according to a report from Deadline.

The $250 million production budget comes fairly standard for Disney's bigger remakes, coming in just below that of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast:

  • The Lion King: $260 million
  • Alladin: $183 million
  • Beauty and the Beast: $254 million
  • The Little Mermaid: $250 million

In the same report from Deadline, the outlet calculated The Little Mermaid would need to gross $560 million at the global box office to break even, based on its own estimates of how much the movie will likely earn from home release sales, along with TV and streaming deals.

As the 2023 Little Mermaid remake took home $567.51 million from the global box office ($297.19 million domestic and $270.32 million international), the movie will likely turn an extremely thin profit depending on its home release sales.

The Little Mermaid's box office haul comes in far lower than that of its live-action remake peers, many of which have grossed over $1 billion:

  • The Lion King: $1.66 billion
  • Alladin: $1.05 billion
  • Beauty and the Beast: $1.27 billion
  • The Little Mermaid: $567.51 million

Naturally, many of these high-grossing remakes have raked in massive profits - according to figures from Deadline - however, The Little Mermaid, unfortunately, won't be joining the ranks of these monster successes:

  • The Lion King: $580 million
  • Alladin: $356 million
  • Beauty and the Beast: $414.7 million

How The Little Mermaid Will Change Disney's Future Movie Plans

Speaking to Deadline, a film finance insider called The Little Mermaid “Not a huge disappointment, but a disappointment, nonetheless,” and that may perfectly sum up the level of success the 2023 live-action remake has accrued.

This year has seen several major franchise movies - including Fast X, The Flash, Ant-Man 3, Indiana Jones 5, and The Little Mermaid - released on ridiculous budgets of over $200 million, and therefore struggling to turn a profit.

Going forward, studios across Hollywood, including Disney, will probably be making more conscious efforts to reduce their movie budgets, with a price tag over $200 million likely to be handed out far more sparingly in the future.

Fans shouldn't expect to see Disney doing much rethinking on its live-action remake focus, as the movie still made its money back and will likely go on to become a hit on Disney+, but future projects may be made on a cheaper budget.

The studio already has Snow White, Lilo & Stitch, and Mufasa: The Lion King on the cards for next year, while other remakes in development are Moana, Hercules, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Little Mermaid is coming to Disney+ on Wednesday, September 6.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.