The Little Mermaid is a Disney media franchise that started in 1989 with the success of the animated feature film The Little Mermaid which led to a direct-to-video sequel, a prequel film, a spin-off television series, a musical, several video games, theme park attractions, and other merchandise.
The Little Mermaid paved the way for what is now known as the Disney Renaissance when all their most iconic modern animated movies came out in the 90s. The original film was based on the fairytale, The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen which came out in 1837.
How Many The Little Mermaid Movies Are There?
There are three movies in The Little Mermaid franchise. The first animated movie called The Little Mermaid came out in 1989. The second installment is a direct-to-video sequel that came out on VHS in 2000, and it is called The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. The last animated film, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, is a direct-to-video prequel to the original film, released on DVD in 2008.
The Little Mermaid Movies In Order (At A Glance)
The Little Mermaid original animated movie was a commercial success and had raving reviews from critics and the audience. Unlike the first one, the two films following it had generally negative reviews and they hadn’t gained much popularity among the audience.
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008)
All movies, especially the first film, are known for their colorful characters, beautiful animation, and legendary songs. The Little Mermaid won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”).
What Is The Best Way To Watch The Little Mermaid Movies?
The Little Mermaid trilogy should be watched chronologically. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning or the last released movie, deals with Ariel’s childhood, especially with the death of her mother Athena. This helps us understand the character of Ariel and the underwater kingdom of Atlantica better before the events of the original film.
The Little Mermaid Movies In Chronological Order
1. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008)
Director: Peggy Holmes
Writer: Robert Reece, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Runtime: 1h 17m
Synopsis: In this animated film, a grief-stricken King Triton (Jim Cummings) outlaws music in the wake of the death of his wife, Athena (Lorelei Hill Butters). When Flounder (Parker Goris) discovers that the irrepressible Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) has been singing at an illegal undersea speakeasy in defiance of the king’s decree, Ariel (Jodi Benson) struggles to sneak out without getting caught by the royal court’s maniacal nanny, Marina Del Ray (Sally Field).
2. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writer: Roger Allers, Ron Clements, John Musker
Runtime: 1h 22m
Synopsis: In Disney’s beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel (Jodi Benson) is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which is forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.
3. The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
Director: Jim Kammerud
Writer: Elizabeth Anderson, Temple Matthews
Runtime: 1h 15m
Synopsis: Ariel and Eric now have a daughter named Melody, who is forbidden to go to the sea. After having found a magic locket that shows her the kingdom of Atlantica, Melody decides to run away from home and discover the secrets of the sea. Ariel eventually finds out that her daughter has run away after being told by Sebastian. Now, Ariel must turn back into a mermaid to go into the sea once more to find her missing daughter. However, Ursula’s sister, Morgana, has an evil plan to take over Atlantica. Ariel and her friends must stop Morgana and save Melody from her evil clutches.
Do You Need To Watch The Little Mermaid Movies In Order?
For a better understanding of the overarching themes and characters, you should watch the movies in chronological order. First the prequel film, and then the original and the sequel. There wouldn’t be any confusion if you watched all the movies in their release order, but you get a more profound understating of Ariel’s motivations in the original film. Also, if you watch them chronologically, you understand better why her father hates humans and music so much.
Are The Little Mermaid Movies Connected?
Yes, all three of The Little Mermaids are connected. The prequel, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, introduces us to Ariel’s family, the underwater world she lives in, and the issue that arose from her mother’s death. Next, in The Little Mermaid, we follow Ariel as she struggles with her father’s decisions and as she explores the human world. In the sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, we center on the story of her and Eric’s daughter who breaks her mother’s rule and returns to the sea.
Will There Be More The Little Mermaid movies?
As far as we know are no new films planned that will continue Ariel’s story or the story of her family. But, in 2016 we got the first news that a live-action remake of the first The Little Mermaid film was in the works. Later, in 2019 we got confirmation that the screenplay was finished and that Rob Marshall will direct the movie. Also that year, Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Jacob Tremblay will voice Flounder, and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula. To make things even better, Lin-Manuel Miranda was put in charge of the music, and he said that there are a few new, original songs to look forward to in the movie. The official release date for this new live-action remake is set for May 26, 2023.