Look away, Disney: Sophia Coppola was supposed to create a dark version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid for Universal. In a new interview, the renowned director revealed what the movie would look like if the project pushed through.
The Little Mermaid’s Somber Ending
Disney’s The Little Mermaid ended with Ariel and Prince Eric living happily ever after, but the original fairy tale written by Andersen was a little less pleasant than the 1989 animated movie. For one, the titular little mermaid had to endure excruciating pain in every step she takes with her new human feet. Moreover, the story did not exactly have a happy ending.
However, this dark original fairy tale was what Universal wanted to convey on the big screen and, in 204, they announced Coppola as the upcoming movie’s director. This was supposed to be her first big studio project, but she later walked away citing creative differences.
Right now, Coppola is doing press rounds to promote her new movie The Beguiled, an adaptation of a gothic novel of the same title written by Thomas P. Cullinan. But during the New York Film Society’s An Evening With Sofia Coppola, the filmmaker talked about her vision for The Littler Mermaid and why it fell through.
“It wasn’t the Disney version, it was actually the original fairy tale, which is much darker,” Coppola told the audience (via JoBlo). “I thought it would be fun to do a fairy tale, I’ve always loved fairy tales, so I was curious about doing that.”
So her take on the fairy tale would have been more loyal to the original, something that most movie audience is not familiar with. While Disney is also remaking their animated movie, Universal’s take would be completely different.
Moreover, she shared that she wanted to film the movie completely underwater. She admitted that the idea would have been a nightmare to execute. She recalled that tests were conducted and, although an interesting and ambitious idea, it did not work out at all.
However, while filming underwater presented some technical challenges, it was the movie’s scale that made the filmmaker decide to part ways with the studio.
Coppola, who usually stays away from big studio projects, explained that the charm of doing smaller movies is the creative freedom. “[W]hen it’s smaller, you can have exactly what you have in mind,” she explained. Whereas Universal, she felt, wanted to make the movie more about business than art.
The Little Mermaid in Dark Universe?
After Coppola’s exit, the script was handed to Richard Curtis. Chloe Grace Moretz was cast into the lead role, but she dropped out of the project last year. As of this writing, no actor has been announced so far.
Universal is currently building its own cinematic universe called Dark Universe. It will include titles such as The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula and, more recently, The Mummy (which is predicted to lose an insane amount of money).
If Coppola did not drop out of the project, it would have been interesting to see her version of The Little Mermaid pan out on the big screen with characters like Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll and Johnny Depp’s Invisible Man.
The Beguiled Movie Details
While Coppola left the live-action adaptation of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, she was able to direct another big screen adaptation but, this time, of a gothic novel. The Beguiled is about a Southern girls’ boarding school that sheltered young women during the Civil War. One day, they provide refuge to one injured enemy soldier that caused a dangerous rivalry between women.
The movie stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard and Colin Farrell.