The Little Mermaid becomes a blockbuster in the Philippines while sparking racist reactions elsewhere in Asia – The Hollywood Reporter

The little mermaid may have been a big hit in some key film markets in Asia, but it was a resounding success in the Philippines. Disney’s live-action remake of the 1989 animated classic is currently the biggest blockbuster of the year in the Southeast Asian country. The film grossed $5.8 million, surpassing the two biggest Hollywood hits of the year, Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($2.2 million) and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 ($4.7 million).

“The Philippines is obviously an outstanding market for us,” said John Hsu, Disney’s senior vice president of studio operations in Asia Pacific. “It’s rare, but it’s the biggest area for it The little mermaid in Southeast Asia, our third-highest-grossing market in Asia-Pacific after Australia and Japan, and our 11th-highest-grossing territory globally,” he says.

Elsewhere in Asia, the picture is not so rosy. In the much larger markets of China and South Korea The little mermaid fell well short of expectations in the face of a racist backlash on social media over the casting of black actress Halle Bailey for the role of Ariel. The film has grossed just $3.6 million in China and $5 million in South Korea — a fraction of what other Disney live-action remakes have grossed there. The jungle book (2016) and The Lion King (2019) were blockbusters in China, grossing $150 and $120 million respectively. in south korea, Aladdin (2019) cost $91 million and Beauty and the Beast (2017) grossed $37.5 million. Disney declined to comment The little mermaids performance in these countries.

The Philippines not only lacked such negative elements, but Bailey’s performance was generally well received by Filipino moviegoers, according to Hsu. “They really liked Halle Bailey’s performance as Ariel, and they also liked her as the new princess,” he says.

The little mermaid is a notable highlight for the Philippine market this year,” said Rance Pow, President of Artisan Gateway, an Asia-focused exhibition industry consultancy. Pow points out the film is doing better than all other Hollywood films this year but still won’t reach the heights of other Disney live-action remakes released in the Philippines before the COVID crisis – Aladdin earned $11 million there and The Lion King cost $10.2 million.

“That could be because the Philippines is still going strong again,” says Pow, as the cinema market continues to recover from the COVID crisis.

In the USA, The little mermaid has done well despite protests from some against Bailey’s casting. The film has grossed more than $257 million since its May 24 release. Box office analysts believe he could top out at $350 million domestically AladdinDomestic transportation totaled $355.6 million.

Hsu sees several other contributors The little mermaidThe Philippines’ overwhelming success: The country’s young demographic, the strong nostalgia in the market for the original Disney animated films, and the enduring love of music and song deeply rooted in Filipino culture. And he commends Disney’s Philippines-based marketing team for considering these factors to create a particularly effective campaign for the film.

A poster for The Little Mermaid atop Manila’s Primex Tower, the largest billboard in the Philippines.

“They ran an extensive campaign across all media, but they really focused on social media and focused on the music, nostalgia and Princess Ariel,” he says, referencing Bailey’s rendition of “Part of Your World,” the lead single from The little mermaid Soundtrack, hit #1 on Spotify in the Philippines and has been played over 13 million times.

“Post-COVID, internet usage has increased significantly in the Philippines,” he adds. “So the team focused heavily on TikTok and recruited influencers to promote the film by performing their own versions of Ariel’s songs. That really increased awareness and word of mouth for the film, culminating in the strong opening.”

Some of the viral comedy posts created by Filipino TikTok influencers using the brand little Mermaid The effects created by Disney are below. Elsewhere in the Manila area, fan excitement manifested itself as moviegoers dressed up in mermaid and aquarius cosplays to attend special screenings of the film.

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