Movies

‘The Little Mermaid’ Splashes To $164M Global Bow, But There’s Something Fishy Overseas As Disney Pic Beset By Review-Bombing

Refresh for latest…: Disney’s live-action take on The Little Mermaid is doing swimmingly at the domestic box office, with a three-day opening of $95.5M and a four-day projection of $117.5M. Factoring in the international box office bow of $68.3M, that makes for an estimated $163.8M global debut through Sunday. The offshore launch is lower than hoped for coming into the frame. But it bears noting there was something fishy going on in overseas markets with so-called review-bombing in such areas as France, Korea, Germany and beyond.

While the Rob Marshall-directed update has a 95% verified audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, film ratings websites overseas, including IMDB in the UK, Brazil and Mexico as well as AlloCiné in France, posted advisories during the rollout when negative user reviews appeared in questionable abundance.  

As we noted in our global preview, The Little Mermaid was expected to be more of a domestic play at the outset. However, it’s fairly astonishing to see these overseas reactions — largely believed to be led by internet trolls.

In France, where Little Mermaid launched on Wednesday, AlloCiné wrote, “We are currently observing an unusual distribution of scores which demands the need for caution. We encourage you to make up your own mind about the film.” While not unprecedented, this is a rare move. To be fair, critics at some respected outlets including Libération, Première and Les Inrockuptibles did not like the movie, giving it just one star.

On IMDB, a warning reads: “Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.” That note appears on the U.S. and Canadian sites as well as those for the UK, Brazil and Mexico. 

IMDB says it publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. “Although we accept and consider all votes received by users, not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating. When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternate weighting calculation may be applied in order to preserve the reliability of our system,” the website explains. However, it does not disclose the exact method used to generate the rating.

In Germany, Moviepilot showed a rating of .7 out of 10 before The Little Mermaid release – far lower than any comp title. Traction increased throughout the weekend, moving to a 5 rating.

Some gripes have been about murky lighting or even just the why of it all when remaking a classic. In some pockets of the world, there has sadly been racially-tinged commentary.

Korea’s SBS News reported heading into the weekend that the film had been subject to “ratings terrorism” in an article whose title Korean entertainment website Zapzee translated to “Backlash Against ‘Black Mermaid’: Appearance Ridiculed, Ratings Drop on Day One.” 

On the ratings portal of Korea’s Naver over the past several days, there had been a trend of negative reviews receiving hundreds of likes, and positive reviews getting hundreds of thumbs down. On the day of release, the score was 1.96, which has since evolved to 6.67.

Many ultimately have praised Halle Bailey’s performance.

And, in China, it’s just a disaster. There is no audience score on Maoyan, unusual for a film already in release for several days. The box office through Sunday is a dismal RMB 17.7M ($2.5M) with Maoyan projecting a full run of about $4M. 

Here are the Top 5 markets on the movie at open: Mexico ($8.5M), UK ($6.3M), Italy ($4.7M), Brazil ($4M) and Australia ($4M).

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