Disney Plus' Frustrating Little Mermaid 2023 Release Marks Big Shift in Streaming Strategy

By Klein Felt Updated:
Little Mermaid Disney+

The Little Mermaid's frustrating Disney+ release could be a bellwether for things to come for Disney's overall streaming strategy. 

Just when audiences thought they were getting the hang of things in this new streaming world, Disney and the studios of Hollywood decided to change things up. 

After years of rampant streaming spending and dwindling box office numbers, Disney is hellbent on trying to reverse the effects of quick-to-Disney+ release plans.

And 2023's The Little Mermaid remake is just the latest indicator of this, as the movie still has no Disney+ release date in sight.

The Little Mermaid's Disney+ Release Signals Key Change

Little Mermaid 2023

Disney's The Little Mermaid may be the first indication that the studio is shifting towards a wider window for their Walt Disney Pictures films and their eventual releases on Disney+. 

Now, just over two months out from Little Mermaid's theatrical debut, the film still does not have a Disney+ release date, despite coming to digital storefronts more than a month ago

This marks a distinct shift in how Walt Disney Pictures handles its original movies on the streamer. 

Over the past couple of years (COVID releases aside), the studio has kept shorter windows for its films before they appear on Disney+. Movies like Lightyear and Strange World hit the service a meager 47 and 30 days, respectively, after their theatrical releases. 

At the time of writing, it has been more than 65 days since The Little Mermaid hit theater screens around the world, and it is not on Disney+. For comparison, those other recent Disney-produced releases had theater-to-streaming windows well short of 50 days. 

See the list of notable titles since 2022 below:

  • Encanto - 30 days
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - 47 days
  • The Bob's Burgers Movie - 47 days
  • Lightyear - 47 days
  • Thor: Love and Thunder - 62 days
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - 82 days
  • Strange World - 30 days
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania - 89 days 

Given that The Little Mermaid's physical release is coming on Tuesday, September 19 - along with Disney's recent propensity for lining up physical and Disney+ releases - this could mean the movie will not arrive on the studio's streaming platform until mid-to-late September. 

This also comes as Disney pivots from releasing many of its original films straight to streaming with the likes of Disenchanted, Hocus Pocus 2, Pinocchio, and so many more all forgoing the theaters, releasing on Disney+ first.

What Does Disney's New Streaming Strategy Looks Like?

This shifting in Disney+ strategy is going to leave many guessing when they are going to be able to take in Disney's latest aquatic adventure, but there may be some method to the studio's Disney+ madness. 

After a similar shift took place with the studio's MCU projects as of late, a pattern has seemingly emerged and could be replicated on the Walt Disney Pictures side of things as well. 

The last two Marvel Studios releases came to Disney+ 89 days after its theatrical debut. 

There is still plenty of time for Little Mermaid to follow a similar 90-day plan. If the movie were to stick to that same 89-day mark that would put its Disney+ release on Friday, August 23. 

Wither wat, this shift is likely just the beginning for Disney releases, with the likes of Elemental, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Haunted Mansion all likely getting wider theatrical to streaming windows of their own. 

The Little Mermaid is available on digital storefronts now, with a physical release set for Tuesday, September 19.

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.