The Little Mermaid: release date, trailer, cast, reviews and everything we know about the live-action Disney film

Halle Bailey as Ariel popping up out of the water in The Little Mermaid
Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid (Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

In many ways, Disney’s The Little Mermaid has long been overdue for a live-action revamp. Considering the media empire has already brought to "life" the stories of Cinderella, Dumbo, The Lion King and most recently, Pinocchio, fans of Ariel and company have patiently waited to see the characters of this underwater world come to realization outside of the realm of animation.  Finally in spring 2023, after being in development since 2016, The Little Mermaid makes its theatrical debut. 

As fans everywhere get ready to relive their childhood, or perhaps embark on creating new family memories, we’ve got the information viewers will want to know in preparation for the magical event. 

Here’s everything we know about Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  

The Little Mermaid release date 

The live-action rendition of Disney’s The Little Mermaid premieres in theaters worldwide on May 26, 2023.  As we get closer to the release date, you can check sites like Fandango to see where the film may be playing near you and if there are any early showings.  

The Little Mermaid trailer

On May 17, we got a closer look at Melissa McCarthy playing Ursula, and it's awesome. Take a look at the clip. 

On May 14, Halle performed her rendition of "Part of Your World" live, and it's received nothing short of rave reviews. Check out the video and hear for yourself. 

On May 11, Walt Disney Studios released another glimpse of the film, and this time we get to see Sebastian and Ariel lay the groundwork for the classic song "Under the Sea." Are you officially ready to see the live-action movie? 

On April 26, Walt DIsney released another promo clip for the movie where you get to see more of a glimpse of Melissa McCarthy's Ursula. Check out the clip below. 

With only a couple of months away, Walt Disney finally released a trailer for the film on March 12. We are definitely looking forward to the film. 

On February 15, Disney released another teaser for the upcoming film. This time, viewers get to see a little more of the underwater world of Ariel. Check out the video. 

While there has not yet been an official full-length trailer released for the film, at Disney’s D23 Expo, an official teaser was debuted. In the brief clip, you’ll hear the angelic voice of Halle Bailey singing, which has garnered rave reviews thus far. Take a look.  

The Little Mermaid music

The official movie soundtrack for the film becomes available to stream on May 19. However, Walt Disney Studios released Halle Bailey's cover of "Part of Your World" on April 26, and it has listeners in tears. Take a listen. 

What is The Little Mermaid about? 

For those not quite as familiar with the classic story, Disney describes The Little Mermaid plot as the following: 

"The Little Mermaid is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters, and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and while visiting the surface falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life — and her father’s crown — in jeopardy."

Who is in The Little Mermaid cast? 

Halle Bailey as Ariel singing in The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid (Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

The Little Mermaid cast is certainly not short on talent. Not only are Oscar-winning Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Being the Ricardos) and Tony-winning Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Snowpiercer) starring in the film, but so is the incomparable and hilarious actress Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Nine Perfect Strangers). 

Playing everyone’s favorite mermaid Ariel is none other than Halle Bailey. While Halle’s breakout acting role has been starring as Sky Forster in the sitcom Grown-ish, Bailey’s most notable accomplishments come from her time in the music industry. She and her sister Chloe signed with Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment company as the duo Chloe x Halle in 2015 and since then the group has gone on to earn four Grammy nominations. 

Recently Halle opened up about starring in The Little Mermaid, specifically about singing the movie’s iconic song "Part of Your World," at Disney’s D23 Expo. As reported in Deadline, she stated: 

"I’m sure all of you in here can relate to Ariel and how special she is to all of us. Being a little girl swimming in the pool, imagining I was a mermaid, I never imagined that would come to life [like this]. … The three days filming ‘Part of Your World’ was the most beautiful experience of my life — feeling all the feelings she feels, her passion, discomfort, everything she’s experiencing. It was so exciting for me to play those emotions and to have Rob directing me and being such a moving force on this film was really an honor."

Check out the full list of the major cast members and the characters they play below. 

  • Halle Bailey as Ariel  
  • Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian   
  • Jacob Tremblay as the voice of Flounder    
  • Awkwafina as the voice of Scuttle   
  • Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric   
  • Art Malik as Sir Grimsby   
  • Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina  
  • Javier Bardem as King Triton 
  • Melissa McCarthy as Ursula

Want to know more about the cast or who voiced the characters in the original 1989, film?  Here’s your chance to meet the cast of The Little Mermaid.

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid

Melissa McCarthy, The Little Mermaid (Image credit: Walt Disney Studios )

The Little Mermaid reviews

Our WTW team raved about Halle’s performance in The Little Mermaid. Looking elsewhere, here’s what other critics had to say, which is largely positive. 

Lex Briscuso of The Wrap stated:
"The live-action Little Mermaid is a fresh take on a beloved classic that isn’t afraid to take a fairy tale and make it as real as it can, inviting its audience to dive into uncharted waters alongside its engaging and charming central characters."

Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote:
"And so it goes with an on-the-other-fin mixed bag of a movie that honors its source material with a big, color-saturated production, while never precisely proving that it ever needed to exist."

Wesley Morris of the New York Times stated: 

"It reeks of obligation and noble intentions. Joy, fun, mystery, risk, flavor, kink — they’re missing. The movie’s saying, “We tried!” Tried not to offend, appall, challenge, imagine."

How to watch the animated version of The Little Mermaid

For those looking to jump back in the waters with the likes of Sebastian and Flounder in Disney’s original animated version of the film, The Little Mermaid is available to stream on Disney Plus

The Little Mermaid director

Emmy-winner and Oscar-nominee Rob Marshall directed the live-action film. He’s previously directed Mary Poppins Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Into the Woods, which all happen to be successful Disney films. It stands to reason that the entertainment giant should prepare to have another hit on its hands with Marshall at the helm. 

Terrell Smith

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.