From Emma Watson rumours to unhappy endings, Coppola's film remake promises to be a much darker affair
Opening shot: Scarlett Johansson's backside, in pink fish scales. Switch out Tokyo hotel room for seaside rocks. Cue: soft, atmospheric indie music. Opening credits: THE LITTLE MERMAID.
Ever since news broke that Sofia Coppola is to direct a live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, the internet's gone into full speculation mode. Will Coppola's husband, Thomas Mars from Pheonix, supply the ever-important musical component? How much CGI will be required in the creation of an underwater kingdom? Will Ursula make a cameo? What about Flounder?
In the original fairytale, the young mermaid falls in love with a prince and drinks a magic potion that gives her human legs to pursue him. The potion allows her to dance beautifully, though it causes her immense pain – unfortunately, the prince loves seeing her dance. Which she does. Until her feet bleed. Then he marries someone else. (That's love for you.) The heartbroken mermaid is told that she will gain her fins back if she kills the prince in his sleep, but she loves him too much and ends up throwing herself in the sea, and is turned into a spirit.
So, it's not exactly "Kiss The Girl" territory here. Working Title and Universal Pictures, the two studios bringing the adaptation to screen, are looking for a much darker take on the Disney classic and are taking the story back to its Hans Christian Andersen roots. Coppola might be the perfect director to imbue the quintessential fairy tale with all the charm and doomed romance it deserves.
Here's everything we know about the most exciting non-Disney retelling of a fairy tale in years:
EMMA WATSON MIGHT PLAY THE MERMAID
The Bling Ring star has been linked to the title role today, with sources telling the Sun that "Sofia wants Emma and the pair have such a respect for each other, it would be very surprising if they carry on without each other." The ex-Harry Potter star has long tried to shake off her Hermione Granger past, but finally managed to do it with her role as Nicki Moore, the scheming and shoplifting Beverly Hills princess of Coppola's last film, The Bling Ring.
IT'S BEING WRITTEN BY THE SAME WOMAN WHO PENNED EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
Caroline Thompson, the scribe behind everyone's secret fave Tim Burton film (sorry, Beetlejuice) is on board to rewrite Coppola's film. Previous drafts were done by Fifty Shades Of Grey writer Kelly Marcel and Shame scribe Abi Morgan. Thompson also penned Corpse Bride as well as The Nightmare Before Christmas.
IT COULD HAVE BEEN HELMED BY PRIDE AND PREJUDICE'S JOE WRIGHT
Joe Wright, the man behind Atonement and Pride and Prejudice was once linked to the project. Maybe the producers were looking to him to handle the classic period drama aspect of The Little Mermaid – after all, the original tale does feature ladies in corsets and painful shoes. Coppola's directing, on the other hand, leans to more contemporary tastes: anyone remember this classic scene from Marie Antoinette, with Bow Wow Wow soundtracking some pretty serious 18th century shoe shopping?
THERE WON'T BE A HAPPY ENDING
Morgan described the initial script as "so beautiful and exquisite and painful", which basically means they're going to keep the original ending of the classic fairy tale – not exactly an uplifting Disney ending, but much more in tune with Virgin Suicides, which ably showed off Coppola's morbid (but exquisitely pretty) aesthetic sensibilities. So, no singing lobster, I guess.
EXPECT TO SEE IT IN CINEMAS SOON
Until the Coppola announcement, The Little Mermaid had been in Hollywood development hell – bouncing from rewrite to rewrite and never landing a confirmed director. That's all set to change with Coppola on board: Deadline.com reports that Coppola is keen to "move quickly" and get the shooting started. Time to get wet!