It's been 30 years since The Little Mermaid graced the big screen with anthems like "Under the Sea" and "Part of Your World." The Disney classic is beloved by many late-'80s and early-'90s kids, who watched and sang along with Ariel's journey to dry land—and falling in love with a human prince. The live-action remake has been in the works for a few years, but it became a topic of debate on July 3, when Disney announced Halle Bailey would be taking on the role of Ariel.
The 19-year-old singer is one half of the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, is a protégé of Beyoncé, and stars on Freeform's Grown-ish. Fans of The Princess and the Frog and the Brandy-starring Cinderella know another black Disney princess is long overdue. Though the film's release date has yet to be announced, I'm ready to buy my tickets now.
As we wait, here's everything else we know about the forthcoming movie.
Bailey's role is the only one that's been officially confirmed.
Rob Marshall, the film's director, released a statement on July 3, saying, "After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance—plus a glorious singing voice—all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role."
Bailey shared her excitement on Twitter, calling the casting a "dream come true."
Bailey's casting was met with some backlash.
After Bailey's role was announced, the hashtag #NotMyAriel began circulating around Twitter. Many people argued that the singer was completely wrong for the role because the original Ariel was Danish and had red hair.
Freeform defended its network star in an open letter addressed to the "Poor, Unfortunate Souls." The post explained that "Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be black" and that "the character of Ariel is a work of fiction."
Even actress Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the 1989 movie, defended Bailey's casting. "The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside,” Benson said during a July fan convention, according to ComicBook.com. "And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I'm tall or thin, whether I'm overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story.
It will start shooting in 2020.
According to a release from Disney, the movie should go into production early next year.
Harry Styles might play Prince Eric.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the former One Direction singer is in talks to play Prince Eric opposite Bailey. Although it's still in "early negotiations," the Internet is already having mixed feelings about the potential casting.
the harry styles/little mermaid rumor provoked what i can only describe as hysterical laughter in this section of the office— sonia_saraiya (@soniasaraiya) 16 July 2019
We'll have to wait for official confirmation on Styles's role, but his casting could hint at the kind of changes we'll see in the live-action remake. As THR points out, Prince Eric did not perform any songs in the original. But with Styles up for the role, it seems like a waste not to use his voice. Can't you hear the duet already?
Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, and Jacob Tremblay are in talks to join Bailey.
There's been some very exciting speculation about Bailey's potential castmates. Variety reports that Melissa McCarthy is in the running for the role of Ursula, while Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay are reportedly negotiating to play Flounder and Scuttle, respectively, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lizzo has been vying for the role of Ursula since last year.
When news spread that McCarthy was a consideration for Ursula, fans flooded the Internet with their own suggestions for the role, including Queen Latifah, Tituss Burgess, and Mo'Nique. But one name that's stuck is Lizzo.
The "Juice" singer has actually been gunning for the role of Ursula since last year. She tweeted her "audition tape" in October.
There's even a video of herself dressed as the sea witch.
As soon as McCarthy's name was announced by Variety, Lizzo responded to the tweet with a sad face.
Javier Bardem could be King Triton.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ariel's father, King Triton could be played by actor Javier Bardem, an Oscar winner for his role in 2007's No Country for Old Men.
Lin-Manuel Miranda will write music for the new movie.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will work alongside Alan Menken, who wrote the original movie's music with the late lyricist Howard Ashman, to craft additional music for the remake. Miranda most recently worked with Disney to write music for 2016's Moana, and is also a producer on this movie.
Manuel posted a photo to Twitter of himself and Menken at work.
He told Vulture in 2016 that he's a bit anxious about the project. "I'm intimidated," he said. "This came out of a conversation with Disney, and basically they were like, 'There's no bigger fan of this movie than you, and no bigger public supporter.'" Talk about pressure.
Me, working new Little Mermaid lyrics, faced with characters in and on the water:
I mean should I dig up my old Moana notebooks or nah
see the line where the sky SHUT UP BRAIN— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) 18 July 2019
Miranda will also reunite with his Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall.
Miranda and Marshall (far right) with Emily Blunt and John Deluca, Getty Images
Marshall will direct the film from a script written by Jane Goldman (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). He and Miranda are fresh off a successful collaboration for the Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns, but Marshall's experience with musicals goes far beyond that. He also directed Into the Woods, Nine, and the Oscar-nominated Chicago.
From Harper's Bazaar U.S