The Little Mermaid broke box office records during Memorial Day weekend. The Disney film, which stars Atlanta-native Halle Bailey, became the fifth highest-grossing release in the history of Memorial Day weekend by earning $117.5 million in the United States.
The film faced backlash from racist trolls since Disney announced Bailey as the lead character Ariel in 2019. On social media, the hashtag #NotMyAriel began trending and became a space for hatred against Bailey, who is Black, for her portrayal of the character.
Freeform responded to the hatred by posting on social media, “The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel… is a mermaid, Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be Black.”
The film also faced review-bombing which is an occurrence where groups of people flood review sites with negative ratings. On IMDb, “The Little Mermaid” received over 14,000 1-star reviews out of 34,000. IMDb noted that the film received “unusual voting activity” due to the large amounts of negative ratings.
Of the 34,000 ratings the film received on IMDb, over 14,000 were 1-star reviews. The flood of these reviews caused IMDb to note on its review page, which allows registered users to rate movie titles on a scale of 1 to 10, that the film had attracted “unusual voting activity.”
The statement read, “Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternative weighting calculation has been applied.”
There’s also been a disconnect between the viewers of the film and those who are noted as critics.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the “critics” gave the film a score of 68%. But the audience score stands at 95%.
But beyond the critics, The Little Mermaid proved to be a hit in terms of representation. Black girls were able to be inspired by Bailey’s performance as a Disney princess.
“I think of the little girl that’s still in me,” Bailey told ET. “Honestly, and it heals that girl inside of me to watch them feel like they have representation and someone to look to, to know that they deserve to be in those places too. [It’s] so important. It just makes me cry anytime I see any of those videos.”