Sequel You’ve Never Seen Almost Sunk The Original ‘The Little Mermaid’

(NEXSTAR) — Disney’s latest live-action remake is set to burst into theaters this weekend — the highly anticipated “The Little Mermaid.” But a new movie, starring an R&B star Halle Bailey like princess ariel, she has some big (watery) shoes to fill.

The original 1989 film ranks among Disney’s most beloved films and spawned its own animated prequel TV series, two direct-to-video sequels, and a hit Broadway musical. But did you know that the film — credited with starting Disney’s renaissance — wasn’t a hit with creators when it was pitched as a potential new Disney movie?

And it’s all because of Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah.

Back in 1984, Hanks and Hannah teamed up in the romantic comedy The Mermaid and the Man “Splash”, directed by Ron Howard. Produced by Touchstone Pictures, Disney’s now-defunct adult film division, the film was a huge hit, taking home nearly $70 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LEN — Pictured: (l-r) Actor Tom Hanks with host Jay Leno on June 11, 2004. You can view a DVD copy of the 1984 film “Splash” (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via (Getty Images)

As “The Little Mermaid” co-director/co-writer Ron Clements explained, although Clements’ two-page treatment (based on the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale) was a hit in the creators’ room during a massive 1985 commercial meeting called “The Gong Show,” then Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg rejected the idea.

Clements explains in “Treasures Untold: The Making of ‘The Little Mermaid,'” a special feature in many editions of the film, that Katzenberg thought the idea was too similar to the “Splash” sequel that was in development at the time. Fortunately, the decision was short-lived.

“The next day I got a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg who said he’d read the treatment and actually thought it had potential — and that it was put into development,” Clements recalled.

The rest is history for “The Little Mermaid”. The film was released on November 17, 1989 and grossed over $84 million worldwide. box office in its initial run, in addition to winning two Oscars.

Now, in case you’re wondering what happened to the “Splash” sequel that almost threatened the existence of “Part of Your World,” you might be surprised to learn that the movie actually did get made.

In the end, Walt Disney Studios did not produce the film for theatrical release and the film ended up in the company’s television division. A made-for-TV movie “Splash, too”, broadcast on ABC in two parts, as part of the program block “The Disney Sunday Movie” on May 1 and 8, 1988.

Although none of the original “Splash” stars returned, the film followed the same characters years later, as Hanks’ character (who decided to live an underwater life at the end of the first film) begins to lose his life in New York.

Little information about the film exists online and although it received a European and Australian VHS release in 1988, “Splash, Too” was never released in the United States. The film later went out of print and has yet to see another home video or streaming release – though it could potentially be seen uploaded to a certain Google-owned video hosting site, if you’re curious.

“Splash, Too” currently has a 44% audience rating Rotten Tomatoes (out of 250 ratings) and an average rating of 2.2 on the review page Letterboxd. “Maybe the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed seeing EPCOT used as a set. One star for the location,” reads one recent review.

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