'The Little Mermaid' First Reactions Praise Halle Bailey as Ariel
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Thirty five years after the animated story of Ariel, a flame-haired siren of the sea who falls for a prince, charmed audiences, a live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” dominated the Memorial Day weekend box office. The Disney release is on track to debut to a massive $118 million over the four-day holiday, with $96 million of that coming over the weekend. It ranks as the fifth highest Memorial Day opening in history.

The film got a lift from many of the same moviegoers who first fell in love with Ariel when she flitted across the screen in 1988, as well as from the generations of fans who weren’t alive when the original movie opened, but who were nevertheless weaned on the classic from its various appearances on DVD, television, and later streaming. The live action “Little Mermaid” (and “live action” is doing a lot of lifting here considering the sheer tonnage of CGI required to bring Ariel’s ocean home to life), was directed by Rob Marshall and stars Halle Bailey as the title character. Melissa McCarthy plays Ursula, the malevolent sea witch who steals Ariel’s voice in return for giving her legs and a chance to canoodle with the dreamy Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). Javier Badem, Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs round out the ensemble.

All that watery magic didn’t come cheap. “The Little Mermaid” has a $250 million production budget, so it will need to keep attracting crowds around the globe in order to break even.

Elsewhere in the multiplexes, “Fast X,” the tenth installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, continued to show signs of running low on fumes, at least in the U.S. It’s estimated to bring in about $23 million his weekend and $28.7 million over the four-day holiday after launching to a soft $67 million. Stateside the film has generated a disappointing $113.6 million. But Dom and his road crew are getting a much warmer reception overseas, with “Fast X” expected to cross the $500 million mark at the global box office this weekend, making it the third-highest grosser of the year. But it needs to keep making money and lots of it. The latest chapter in the series cost a knee-weakening $340 million to produce.

Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3” took third place with $20 million and an estimated $25.3 million for the four-day holiday, pushing its domestic total to a sizable $300 million. Universal and Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” came in fourth with $6.3 million over the weekend and an estimated $8.3 million during the holiday period. Domestically, the movie has made a gargantuan $560.9 million after eight weeks in theaters. A sequel to the video game adaptation can’t come soon enough for theater owners.

Not every studio had reasons to celebrate as a trio of new releases bombed. “The Machine,” an action comedy from Sony and Legendary starring stand-up Bert Kreischer, collapsed with $4.9 million over the weekend and $5.8 million over the four-day holiday. “About My Father,” based on the life story of another popular comic, Sebastian Maniscalco, also failed to draw much interest. The Lionsgate released eked out $4.3 million over the weekend and $5.3 million during the four-day holiday. And Open Road and Briarcliff release of Gerard Butler’s latest action opus “Kandahar” sputtered with a measly $2.4 million over the weekend and $3 million during the four-day period.

At the box office this weekend the chasm between the hits and the flops was truly yawning.

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