The Little Mermaid will remain under the sea—possibly for good. ABC’s previously announced plan to produce a live TV adaption of the beloved Disney film has been scrapped, according to USA Today. The Little Mermaid Live! was originally scheduled to air in early October, but now it has been postponed—and most likely canceled, according to insiders familiar with the decision—due to budget constraints.
The Little Mermaid Live! was set to be ABC’s first live musical in years and its indefinite postponement comes as a surprise. The network had already spent a considerable amount of money building sets for the production, and rehearsals were due to begin soon.
The news that The Little Mermaid Live! has been “canceled” comes days after ABC announced that the broadcast date for the two-hour production has been pushed back. The live-TV adaptation to be presented under the “Wonderful World of Disney” banner was not given a new air date, but the network teased a 2018 time frame for Ariel and her friends to go live.
“We love the idea of doing a live musical and want to make it wonderful,” an ABC spokesperson said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The project is so unique that we are making best efforts to do it next year and want to give it all the attention it deserves.”
The Little Mermaid Live! was first announced at ABC’s upfronts in May. Given ABC’s access to the Disney library, it was a no-brainer for the network to dive into the live TV musical game with a classic Disney story. But Robert Mills, the network’s head of alternative programming, expressed some reservations about taking on the iconic brand amid a sea of live TV events.
“We really wanted to be in the game as well, and we’re Disney and we have this library that has an endless amount of classic musicals that really play to everyone,” Mills said, according to Variety. “But that’s a double-edged sword because you are Disney, you have to do it right. You’ve got to do it so you’re honoring the brand. It took time to find the right take on this.”
The Little Mermaid Live! was set to feature scenes from the 1989 animated film with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s musical numbers performed live by celebrities. The two-hour extravaganza would have been one of three live-event specials for ABC’s 2017-2018 season. In February, the network will still pay tribute to Rolling Stone magazine with Rolling Stone 50, and an untitled live comedy special with Jimmy Kimmel and Justin Theroux is also in the works.
While The Little Mermaid won’t swim on ABC anytime soon, there are several other live musicals on the TV horizon. NBC plans a live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar April 1, and Fox will air A Christmas Story later this year and Rent in 2018.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]