After months of trying to determine who would play the title character in Working Title and Universal’s live-action version of “The Little Mermaid,” director Sofia Coppola has exited the project over creative differences.
Universal and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title are still moving forward with the project.
According to insiders, the studio and Coppola clashed over who should play the lead role of Ariel. The “Lost in Translation” director was said to be very high on newcomer Maya Thurman Hawke, the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, while studio brass were wary about the pick.
A spokesman for Universal declined to comment.
“The Little Mermaid” was lining up to be Coppola’s biggest studio film to date. In 2006, she directed the box office disappointment “Marie Antoinette” for Columbia after breaking out with the acclaimed indie “The Virgin Suicides.” Both pics starred Kirsten Dunst.
Coppola, whose last film “Somewhere” currently has no other project lined up though she did recently finish the Netflix special “A Very Murray Christmas,” which she directed and wrote with Bill Murray and Mitch Glazer.
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.