It looks like Disney's live-action version of The Little Mermaid may finally be gaining some real traction. The project has been in some form of development for some time now, but it appears the studio is much more serious about actually getting the movie made, as they've set their sights on a director. Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) is said to be Disney's top choice for the job and has been offered the movie.
According to a new report, Rob Marshall is currently reviewing the script, which was written by Jane Goldman. That is also a new reveal, as it previously wasn't known who had worked on the latest draft. Goldman has written quite a few big hits over the years, such as X-Men: First Class, the Kingsman movies and Kick-Ass, just to name a few. As for Marshall, he most recently directed Mary Poppins Returns for Disney, which the studio has very high hopes for. It's also worth noting that he worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda on that movie, who is set to produce and write new music for The Little Mermaid, alongside Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast).
Rob Marshall is said to be reading the scripting and taking until after the holidays to make his decision. There's no word on who Disney might reach out to if Rob Marshall passes. In the past, he's done very well for the Mouse House. Though the movie wasn't a critical darling, Marshall directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. He's also got a solid track record when it comes to musicals, which will be important for something like The Little Mermaid.
Universal Pictures is also currently working on their own live-action version of The Little Mermaid, which was at one point supposed to star Chloe Moretz in the lead role, before she dropped out. There's no release date set for that version just yet, so it's possible that Disney could still beat Universal to the punch, which will be important. Warner Bros. ran into issues with Andy Serkis' live-action version of The Jungle Book after Disney released their own version last year, which was met with rave reviews and grossed nearly $1 billion. Being first will be key, even for a studio as big as Disney, on something like this.
There's no word on casting for The Little Mermaid just yet, but Lindsay Lohan did express interest in playing Ariel. Disney's 1989 animated version of The Little Mermaid ranks among the classic titles in the studio's rich history and was a massive financial success at the time, bringing in $211 million at the box office. Deadline's report doesn't make note of when Disney plans to release the movie, but it's expected that Rob Marshall, should he take the gig, will begin work on it early next year. The studio is currently working on a live-action version of Aladdin, as well as a reimagining of The Lion King from director Jon Favreau.