Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has received a warm reception in the United States. Critics have received the film fairly warmly, and it holds a 67% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Furthermore, critics have praised the performance of Halle Bailey while noting that the film as a whole is a fairly bland and visually underwhelming remake. However, audiences have loved the film. The Little Mermaid holds a 96% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed $327 million worldwide.
However, the film has some underwhelming international markets, namely those in Asia. According to Endata, the film has grossed just $3.7 million in Mainland China, which counts as the second-largest box office in the world. Similarly, the film has grossed just $4.4 million in South Korea. Meanwhile, the film is yet to open in Japan but is expected to suffer from the same issues. Additionally, these muted figures have been attributed to a problem that has plagued the film time and time again.
Anti-Black Racism Blamed For “The Little Mermaid” Slump
China and South Korea both harbor long histories of racial discrimination. Anti-Black racism has been common in China since the 1970s, when the nation began its expansion of financial diplomacy into Africa. Furthermore, much like how the rest of the world blamed China for COVID-19, China in turn saw a spike in anti-Black discrimination. Meanwhile, South Korea is infamous for a culture of denying service to non-Koreans. Furthermore, research has shown that Black individuals are more likely to experience overt racism than white individuals.
These sentiments appear to be fueling the cold reception to The Little Mermaid. On the Chinese film review website Douban, users have rated the film as a 5.1 out of 10. Meanwhile, several reviews left on the review site and box office tracker Maoyan made direct and discriminatory references to Bailey’s skin color. Similar trends have been observed in South Korea, where the Instagram hashtag ‘NotMyAriel’ has trended numerous times. Furthermore, Japanese film-goers have also expressed a cool reception ahead of the film’s June 9 premiere.