When the trailer for a live-action adaptation of the Little Mermaid dropped last month, a lot of us naturally assumed it was for the upcoming Disney version, which has Lin-Manuel Miranda on board and is therefore already perfect. But wait…wasn't Chloë Grace Moretz meant to be starring in that? Nope. That is a separate live-action Little Mermaid movie. And neither one of those movies is the same one that launched a trailer last month.
Confused yet? Here's a breakdown of the three, laying out everything you need to know about the upcoming Little Mermaid extravaganza.
1. The official Disney retelling
It's a good thing Beauty and the Beast was a hit, because Disney is going all in with the live-action adaptations—The Little Mermaid is just one of a slew they have in development, including Aladdin, Dumbo, and The Lion King.
Lin-Manuel Miranda will work with legendary Disney composer Alan Menken on the movie, and offered an update in fall basically confirming that we shouldn't hold our breath for this particular take. "We're in super-early talks—I literally don't have a title for what my job on the Little Mermaid is yet," Miranda told Vulture. "Right now, it's the guy who wears the 'don't mess it up' hat. If I could sign a contract with that job title on it, that would be great! But that's sort of where we are."
We're nowhere close to having a confirmed cast, although Lindsay Lohan threw her hat into the ring to play Ariel a couple of months back.
2. The troubled Universal production
Technically the first of the live-action mer-movies to be announced, Universal's take has endured several setbacks since 2014. Back then, Sofia Coppola was in talks to direct, but she ultimately dropped out citing—of course—"creative differences."
At this stage, the movie had already gone through a trio of top-drawer female writers: drafts were written by Abi Morgan (Shame), Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey), and Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands). The most recent writer attached was Love Actually's Richard Curtis, whose involvement was announced at the same time Chloë Grace Moretz was cast.
Moretz had reportedly long been Universal's top choice for the lead role—but last fall, she dropped out of the project along with several others, announcing that she was taking a career break. Since then, this Little Mermaid's been in limbo.
3. The loose indie adaptation
This, finally, is the movie whose trailer you watched last month. Set in Mississippi, this version (by Conglomerate Media/Kingsway Productions) follows a young girl (Loreto Peralta) and her reporter uncle (William Moseley), who are trying to track down a woman rumored to be the real-life Little Mermaid.
The woman in question is played by Downton Abbey's Poppy Drayton, while Shirley MacLaine also stars as a mysterious lady who knows a lot about the Little Mermaid story. There's no release date for this one either, but expect it sometime this year.
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