‘The Little Mermaid’ Swims to the Top in The Philippines While Facing Troubled Waters Elsewhere

The Little Mermaid has made a strong showing in The Philippines after facing racist backlash and other hindrances at the box office in Asia. The Hollywood Reporter reported that the film, starring Halle Bailey, has been swimming to the top and been the biggest blockbuster this year in The Philippines. It’s $5.8 million in earnings have helped propel it past other Hollywood blockbusters like Universal’sThe Super Mario Bros. Movie  ($2.2 million) and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($4.7 million).

“The Philippines, obviously, is a standout market for us,” says John Hsu, Disney’s senior vp studio business in Asia Pacific. “It’s rare, but it’s the biggest territory for The Little Mermaid in Southeast Asia by far, our third highest-grossing market in Asia-Pacific behind Australia and Japan, and our 11th highest-grossing territory globally,” he says.

Troubled Waters for The Little Mermaid

This puts the country’s box office performance for The Little Mermaid ahead of some other fairly large countries like China and South Korea. In both countries, the movie has significantly underperformed following a racist social media backlash over Disney’s casting of Black actress Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel. In China the film has made only $3.6 million. South Korea has brought in $5 million. This is significantly less than what recent Disney movies have brought in at the box office. In China, movies like The Jungle Book (2016) and The Lion King (2019) brought in $150 million and $120 million respectively. South Korea saw Aladdin (2019) bring in $91 million and Beauty and the Beast (2017) bring in $37.5 million.

The Philippines Love Halle Bailey’s Ariel

The negative and racist social media outcry did not happen in The Philippines, however. Instead, Filipino movie-goers embraced Halle Bailey and her performance. “They really loved Halle Bailey’s performance as Ariel, and they really liked her as the new princess,” Hsu shared.

The Little Mermaid is a notable standout for the Philippines market this year,” says Rance Pow, president of Artisan Gateway, an exhibition industry consultancy specializing in Asia. He pointed out that it was the strongest film of the year in The Philippines. It should also be noted, however, it isn’t doing the numbers at the box office that were seen in the country before the pandemic. Pre-pandemic Aladdin garnered $11 million and The Lion King brought in $10.2 million. “This might be because the Philippines is still re-ramping,”  from the pandemic Pow suggested.

The Little Mermaid Just Keeps Swimming

The Little Mermaid has been doing decent business in the United States. It has earned over $264 million since its May 24th release. Box office analysts suggest it could reach $350 million domestically. This would put it very close to Aladdin’s $357 million haul.

The film is showing some promise in Japan as well. The movie released on June 9th and earned $10.9 million while surpassing Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Warner Bros.’ The Flash last weekend. The film has been getting positive word of mouth in the country which could lead to stronger results. however, this will take a few weeks to know just how strong the word of mouth and the accompanying box office results are.

Along with success at the box office, The Little Mermaid has been showing strength elsewhere as well. Part of Your World, as sung by Halle Bailey, hit number one on Spotify and has over 13 million plays there. This is credited, in part, to Disney’s marketing team that focused on social media and influencers. Part of this was having influencers recreate their own version the song.

While Disney may not be satisfied with the global box office numbers of The Little Mermaid (currently sitting at $477 million) in comparisons to some of the billion dollar films like Aladdin and The Lion King, this movie continues to swim forward.

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The Little Mermaid Description

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.

What do you think of The Little Mermaid’s box office results? Do you think it should have done better or worse? Read Daps Magic’s review of this film here and share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.


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