Why An Unmade Live-Action Little Mermaid Lost A Major Director

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Summary

  • Sofia Coppola’s version of a live-action Little Mermaid movie would have been much darker and closer to Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale.
  • Coppola intended to shoot underwater scenes, similar to Avatar, but clashed with Universal over the budget required.
  • Her version would have likely delved into the complexities of Ariel’s desires and sacrifices, bringing her strong visual sense and deep character studies to the film.


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Sofia Coppola opens up about why she exited Universal’s unmade live-action Little Mermaid movie. Disney’s live-action remake of its 1989 animated movie, which itself is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, was directed by Rob Marshall and released in theaters in May 2022 to mixed reviews and was deemed a box office disappointment after failing to break even. However, years prior, another live-action Little Mermaid movie was in development at Universal with Sofia Coppola in talks to direct.

During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Coppola opened up about why she exited Universal’s unmade live-action Little Mermaid movie. The acclaimed director recalled hitting “a breaking point” when a Universal executive wanted the movie to appeal to older men. Read her Coppola’s full comments below:

Yes, there was [a breaking point]. I was in a boardroom and some development guy said, “What’s gonna get the 35-year-old man in the audience?” And I just didn’t know what to say. I just was not in my element. I feel like I was naive, and then I felt a lot like the character in the story, trying to do something out of my element, and it was a funny parallel of the story for me.


What Sofia Coppola’s Live-Action Little Mermaid Would Have Looked Like

Ursula over cauldron in The Little Mermaid

In her own words, Coppola’s live-action Little Mermaidwasn’t the Disney version.” Instead, it was a closer adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale in the sense that it was “much darker.” Coppola also intended to film The Little Mermaid underwater, similar to what James Cameron later achieved with Avatar: The Way of Water. However, shooting underwater presents difficult technical challenges and is very costly. Coppola clashed with Universal over the budget required to shoot underwater, which is another reason why she left the project.

Related: 8 Best Sofia Coppola Movies

With films like Somewhere, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette, Coppola has developed a strong visual and atmospheric style defined by a dreamy, ethereal quality. Her ambitious plans for The Little Mermaid would have undoubtedly produced some stunning underwater photography. In addition to her strong visual sense, Coppola is known for her deep character studies, so her version of The Little Mermaid would have likely delved into the complexities of Ariel’s longing for a different world and the sacrifices she makes for love. Though her live-action Little Mermaid was never made, Coppola’s career continues with her new movie, Priscilla.

Source: Rolling Stone