Sofia Coppola departs as director of ‘The Little Mermaid’

Sofia Coppola will no longer direct "The Little Mermaid" for Universal Pictures.

Sofia Coppola will no longer direct “The Little Mermaid” for Universal Pictures.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Plans for Sofia Coppola to direct “The Little Mermaid” have dissolved into sea foam.

The “Lost in Translation” filmmaker has exited Universal Pictures’ and Working Title Films’ live-action adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale over creative differences, The Times has confirmed. Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.

Universal is moving forward with the project, which is being produced by Working Title co-chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.


Caroline Thompson (“Edward Scissorhands”) wrote the most recent draft of the script, which was previously worked on by Kelly Marcel (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) and Abi Morgan (“Shame”). Joe Wright (“Pride & Prejudice”) also circled the film as director before Coppola came aboard last year.

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Details about the new take on “The Little Mermaid” have yet to emerge, but given the names mentioned above, it could be darker and more grown-up than the beloved Disney animated musical from 1989. Andersen’s original tale, after all, centers on a Faustian bargain in which the titular mermaid risks heartbreak and death for a chance to live on land and to win over her beloved prince.

Coppola, whose latest film as a director was 2013’s “Bling Ring,” has not announced her next project, although she recently completed the Netflix special “A Very Murray Christmas” with Bill Murray.

Meanwhile, live-action updates of classic fantasy tales are in vogue in Hollywood. Wright, for example, directed Warner Bros’ upcoming Peter Pan tale “Pan,” and Disney is following up “Maleficent” (based on “Sleeping Beauty”) and “Cinderella” with a live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movie.

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