Disney’s Historic Year Of Movie And TV Show Bombs Explained

There’s an argument to be made that “The Little Mermaid” doesn’t belong on this list at all. It wasn’t a box office bomb, it got solid (though not spectacular) reviews, and Halle Bailey is absolutely phenomenal in the leading role as Ariel. It’s worth seeing for her performance alone, even though the film suffers from many of the same weird adaptation choices as Disney’s other live-action remakes.

But while the movie didn’t bomb, it also barely turned a profit, falling drastically short of live-action hits like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Lion King.” “The Little Mermaid” needed about $560 million to break even, and it just barely squeezed past that mark with a global box office gross of $569.6 million.

It’s no bomb, and it’s a perfectly fine movie, anchored (pardon the pun) by a true rising star in Bailey. But it also feels indicative of the larger year that Disney has had. Even when the studio got the casting right and put out a movie that most people liked in 2023, the odds didn’t seem to be in Disney’s favor. Blame it on remake fatigue, or the online “controversy” over the color of Ariel’s skin sparked by racist trolls, or a general drop in Disney’s reputation, but “The Little Mermaid” is the kind of Disney movie you’d expect to make a bigger splash (sorry, again) in any other year.

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