Kiss the Girl…in the dark

New Footage of ‘The Little Mermaid’ Begs the Question: Can We See Part of Your World?

*Photo credit: Disney

You don’t have to be a Sea Witch to know that The Little Mermaid is looking to make some serious money when it opens on Memorial Day weekend at the box office. And while fireworks will light up the night sky during the holiday season, new footage of The Little Mermaid that was released on Sunday night has people wondering: who will light up Disney’s upcoming underwater adventure? 

During Sunday’s 2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards, new footage from The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl” scene premiered during the broadcast. Audiences saw Ariel and Prince Eric, played by music superstar Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King respectively, getting cozy in the iconic boat ride from the animated film. The scene focuses on Ariel using a kiss from her love interest in order to break the sea witch Ursula’s (Melissa McCarthy) spell that took the mermaid’s voice. Viewers also get a better look at Scuttle (Awkwafina), Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), and Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), whose appearances have stirred up divisive opinions

And while the scene is cute, the lighting within the scene is not. Aside from the water and trees illuminating the footage in the end, for the most part, the scene remains pretty shadowy. Hollywood seems to be continuing its trend towards removing light from its film and TV and the world is still taking notice.

From Solo: A Star Wars Story to The Predator to most noticeably Game of Thrones, Hollywood continues to darken their movies and not just in tone. When GOT’s episode “The Long Night” aired, a social media frenzy ensued with watchers complaining about the dimly lit imagery within the show. While Miguel Sapochnik, who directed GOT’s “The Long Night” episode, stands by the lighting decisions of cinematographer Fabian Wagner, audiences have two things to wrestle with: artistic decisions of those filming and TV settings. 

On one end, filmmakers are following industry trends and testing out cameras that produce higher quality imagery, like the Arri Alexa, but also give greater artistic freedom in post-producing. Meaning, dimly lit footage is a result of testing out new toys with artistic license. 

On the other hand, various TVs aren’t up to speed with handling this, especially within content streaming. Compression is the process that transmits the original video feed to be used for streaming purposes. However, this process is typically handled by an algorithm that strips away some of the data within the original video feed and essentially guesses which parts of the feed are important. Unfortunately, this is a challenge for darker scenes. 

Hopefully this all is worked out by the time this film comes to the theaters and streaming, but until then, audiences will have to wait with bated breath. 

The Little Mermaid premieres in theaters on May 26. 

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