Though the live-action remake has proven less than sea worthy at the global box office, Disney has decided to continue milking their latest cash grab by greenlighting a new animated series based on their race-swapped version of The Little Mermaid.
As announced by the House of Mouse on June 13th, Disney Junior’s Ariel will be similar in concept to Disney’s 1992 The Little Mermaid television series, which served as a prequel to its respective film, but follow an eight-year-old incarnation of the princess instead of a pre-teen one.
Per the series’ official synopsis, Disney Junior’s Ariel is “set in the fantastical Caribbean-inspired underwater kingdom of Atlantica, the series follows Ariel as she embarks on fun-filled, action-packed mermaid adventures with her friends.”
“Driven by a deep and unending curiosity about the world around her, Ariel discovers land treasures, like a big floppy hat, squeaky rubber ducky and whisk, that she collects and keeps safe in her crystal cavern,” explains Disney of the series’ premise. “Sometimes, Ariel uses the treasures to help solve problems.”
In another deviation from its predecessor, the titular princess’ will also distinguish herself with a special tail that, “changes colors depending on her emotions, lights up and shimmers.”
“Full of charm, big ideas and a powerful voice, Disney Junior’s Ariel is coming into her own, learning how to discover and appreciate the world around her and use her voice to inspire others,” the synopsis concludes.
Notably, the series will also feature appearances by “some fan-favorite characters, including King Triton, Ursula, Sebastian and Flounder, as well as exciting new additions” including “Ariel’s two best friends, merchildren named Lucia and Fernie.”
Further, Disney notes that “throughout the series, the multicultural diversity of the Caribbean is highlighted through music, food, festivals, fashion, language and folklore.”
“Dr. Patricia Saunders, professor of English and hemispheric Caribbean studies and director of graduate studies at the University of Miami and author of two books, serves as cultural consultant on the series,” the company detailed. “Sean Skeete, chair of Berklee College of Music’s ensemble department, is the Caribbean music consultant.”
During the series’ reveal at this year’s Annecy Animation Festival, Disney Junior Senior VP of Development, Series and Strategy Alyssa Sapire provided some insight into Ariel‘s creation, asserting that “As we were developing Disney Junior’s Ariel, we knew that we wanted to create an atmosphere that was vibrant and magical and showcased our young Ariel’s imagination.”
“Which, like our preschool audience watching at home, is as big as the sea,” she added.
Likewise, Disney Brand Television President Ayo Davis beamed, “For more than 30 years, the story of The Little Mermaid has been beloved by audiences all over the world. It brings me so much joy to be able to introduce our new Disney Junior version of Ariel to preschoolers everywhere.”
As noted above, this announcement comes in the wake of its source material’s floundering at the box office.
While this take seems impressive on its face, the film has a reported budget of approximately $250 million.
Giving consideration to the generally accepted rule of thumb that a film’s true budget, marketing included, can be roughly estimated by doubling its production budget, The Little Mermaid‘s actual costs come out to $500 million – meaning the live-action remake has yet to even break even, let alone make a profit.
Disney Junior’s Ariel is on track to make a splash in 2024.