The Disney universe doesn’t feel complete without The Little Mermaid. Ariel is one of the most iconic Disney princesses — that red hair and purple shell bikini! It’s hard to imagine a world where Ariel doesn’t give her voice to the oh-so creepy Ursula, but that’s a world we almost lived in. Disney originally passed on The Little Mermaid, and boy, did they almost seriously miss out.
According to John Musker, who co-directed the movie, Disney passed on the idea because they were to afraid that it’d conflict with another mermaid-related movie they had in the pipeline: Splash Too.
In an interview with Yahoo, Musker said he and his directing partner Ron Clements presented Disney with the idea to do Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid at a Disney “Gong Show” where people present ideas to Disney’s execs. It was originally shot down because the made-for-TV sequel to Splash, Splash Too was already in production.
“Yeah, initially they said, ‘We’re doing a sequel to Splash. We don’t want to do another mermaid movie.’ We were like, ‘Really? You don’t want to do this? This is going to be kind of special.’ And then they gave it a reprieve when they read the two-page treatment Ron wrote. They read that and said, ‘Oh, there might be something here. Disney does fairy tales and this is a fairy tale we haven’t done.’ So they put it into development after initially saying, ‘Nah, forget it,'” said Musker.
Disney, you almost made a really poor, poor mistake. Firstly, you can’t ever have too many mermaids, and secondly, does anyone even remember Splash?
Now, The Little Mermaid is credited as bringing Disney back to success after a bunch of box office flops like The Black Cauldron and Oliver And Company (and probably also Splash Too. Did anyone see that?). Disney can thank the movie they almost passed on for helping them become the force they are today.