The Little Mermaid grossed $10.3 million in previews at the North American box office as the long Memorial Day weekend commenced.
That’s one of the best showings ever for screenings before the holiday weekend. Little Mermaid‘s tally includes $850,000 in grosses from special screenings Wednesday; the rest is from traditional Thursday evening screenings.
Overall, Little Mermaid ranks No. 7 on the list of top preview grosses for pics rated G or PG.
Rob Marshall directs the live-action remake of Disney’s beloved animated film. The new Little Mermaid stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, the spirited young mermaid who makes a dangerous deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) in order to experience life on land and meet the dashing Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). The pact, however, poses great risk to her father’s watery kingdom.
The cast also includes Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni and Art Malik.
Bailey’s performance as Ariel has drawn praise from critics amid a racist backlash from social media commenters protesting the casting of a Black actress in the title role. Disney insiders don’t expect these protestations to hurt the film in North America, but are waiting to see how the movie plays in certain overseas markets.
The Little Mermaid is pacing to earn as much as $120 million for the four-day holiday. That would mark the fifth biggest domestic start for Memorial Day weekend, a ranking currently occupied by Disney’s live-action Aladdin, which opened to $116.8 million over the four-day holiday after grossing $7 million in previews.
The movie’s four-day haul is expected to include a three-day gross of $100 million. Presales are pacing ahead of Aladdin, but behind fellow live-action remakes Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Overseas, the movie is tracking for an $80 million opening through Sunday.
Interest is being driven by girls, moms and other females, similar to Beauty and the Beast, whose audience was 70 percent female.
The movie features a score from multiple Oscar winner Alan Menken, as well as new songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Legendary’s action-comedy The Machine and Robert De Niro comedy About My Father also open nationwide but aren’t expected to clear more than $5 million or $6 million in their domestic debuts.
The Machine, from Screen Gems, stars Bert Kreischer and is inspired by the comedian’s stand-up act of the same name. Mark Hamill co-stars.