Starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, the film follows the mermaid as she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to be transformed into a human, so that she can see Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) who she’d helped save and is now in love with.
The catch is that Ursula has captured her voice, and so Ariel must try and get Eric to realise she is the person he’s been searching for without even speaking to him.
Rob Marshall’s new take on the animated classic features fun cameos and subtle Easter eggs for viewers to enjoy, here is everything you need to know.
Jodi Benson’s cameo
Watch: Rob Marshall discuss Jodi Benson's cameo in The Little Mermaid
Jodi Benson portrayed Ariel in Disney’s 1990 animation, and the actor makes an appearance in the 2023 edition of the tale. She plays a resident of the island, whom Bailey’s Ariel meets when visiting a local market with Prince Eric.
In a sweet moment, Benson’s vendor tells Ariel that she needs her fork, a symbol of her passing the baton, and Ariel uses it in her hair after being incorrectly told by Scuttle that the humans use it that way rather than to eat food.
Marshall tells Yahoo UK that he was keen to have Benson in the film because she is “an old friend” and they have worked together on Broadway for a long time.
“We had this deep connection, I have known her for a long time and she's just very special,” he says.
“She embraced the casting of Ariel with Halle immediately, which is very moving to me too, you know, because it's hers.
“But she knows that there's room for other interpretations, like a great opera or a play, you can infuse it with so many different interpretations, and so she's really special to me.
“It's funny she passes the fork… it [had] actually already had been written but we were looking for a place for Jodi… it's like almost passing the torch you know it's quite lovely.”
Homage to Hans Christian Anderson
The Little Mermaid is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, and in Denmark the author is paid tribute to with a statue of Ariel in Copenhagen.
In the 2023 version, similarly to the animation, Ariel is seen sitting atop a rock in the exact same position as the statue in Denmark, thus paying homage to the character’s creator.
Lin-Manuel Miranda helped to write the lyrics for the new songs that were added to the 2023 version of the film, and one song is called The Scuttlebutt which is sung by Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs.
The rap song is reminiscent of Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton, and this is important to note because Diggs starred in the Broadway hit in the roles of Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, for which he won a Tony Award in 2016.
The Little Mermaid will be released on Disney+ on 6 September.