Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid had a splashy debut over the Memorial Day weekend, earning an impressive $95.5 million on 4,320 screens in North America.
The film, starring Halle Bailey as Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, is expected to reach $117.5 million by the end of the holiday, making it the fifth biggest Memorial Day weekend opening ever.
The success of The Little Mermaid is a positive turn for Disney's animated-to-live-action remakes, which have faced mixed reactions and challenges during the pandemic. The film's performance suggests that audiences are still drawn to nostalgic titles from Disney's archive.
While the movie received an A CinemaScore from audiences, critics had a more lukewarm response, with a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics felt that the remake prioritized nostalgia over compelling visual storytelling, although Halle Bailey's performance was praised.
The movie joins the ranks of Disney's top-tier remakes, but falls short of the opening weekend numbers of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. The film appealed to a wide age range, with more ticket buyers between the ages of 25 and 34 than children, indicating that nostalgic adults played a significant role in its success.
In other box office news, Universal's The Super Mario Bros movie continued its steady performance, earning $6.3 million in its eighth weekend and becoming the year's highest-grossing film so far with a cumulative total of $559 million.
Other new releases, including The Machine and About My Father, had relatively modest performances compared to The Little Mermaid. The coming weeks will bring more competition, with the release of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
Overall, The Little Mermaid made a big splash at the box office, demonstrating the enduring popularity of Disney's animated classics and the appetite for live-action remakes when executed well.
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