In today’s film news roundup, Poppy Drayton’s “The Little Mermaid” gets a theatrical release, Melissa Leo gets a film festival honor, and the script for holiday adventure “Escape From the North Pole” is bought.


A live-action independent version of “The Little Mermaid,” starring British actress Poppy Drayton, has been set for release nationwide exclusively in AMC Theatres beginning Aug. 17.

The movie is inspired by the 1837 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale rather than the Disney animated movie and follows a young girl who discovers an enchanting woman she believes to be the real “Little Mermaid” of lore.

William Moseley stars as a reporter following a story about a mermaid and a magic healing water. Together with his sick niece, played by Loreto Peralta, they travel to a small town in Mississippi to uncover a legend.

Shirley MacLaine, Gina Gershon, and Armando Gutierrez also star. Production companies are Kingsway Productions and Conglomerate Media and the film is written and directed by Blake Harris and co-directed by Chris Bouchard. Producers are Armando Gutierrez, Robert Molloy and Kevin Adler.

The film is distributed by Freestyle Releasing. Disney’s animated “The Little Mermaid” was released in 1989 and grossed over $200 million worldwide. Disney has attached Rob Marshall to direct a live-action version of its movie. Drayton starred in MTV’s “The Shanarra Chronicles.”


The Mammoth Lakes Film Festival has selected Melissa Leo as the recipient of its Sierra Spirit Award for Acting with a special tribute taking place on May 26.

The tribute will consist of a screening of Leo’s film, “Frozen River,” followed by a moderated conversation and award presentation.

Leo won an Academy Award for “The Fighter” and was nominated for an Oscar for “Frozen River.” She recently starred in “The Most Hated Woman in America” as activist Madelyn Murray O’Hair and is currently starring in Showtime’s comedy series “I’m Dying Up Here.” She will also reprise her role in the upcoming sequel to action/thriller “The Equalizer” alongside Denzel Washington.

“Melissa is an actress who has demonstrated her ability to take on unique and dynamic roles that showcase her remarkable range and someone who continues to make outstanding contributions to the art of film,” said festival director Shira Dubrovner.


Johnny Lin, producer of the upcoming sci-fi thriller “Rise” and psychological thriller “Sacrifice,” has acquired the rights to the holiday action adventure “Escape From the North Pole.”

The screenplay by Paul Laudiero and Ben Baker, was included on the 2017 version of The Black List, the annual ranking of Hollywood’s best unproduced scripts. Lin and his Filmula Entertainment will fully finance and produce the film. The story follows a young girl who, after being told that Santa Claus isn’t real on Christmas Eve, is kidnapped by an evil elf, then escapes and teams up with a good elf, a reindeer and a Russian explorer to rescue Santa from a band of evil elves and save the North Pole.

Lin is also co-producing and co-financing Mexican Revolution thriller “The Creed of Violence,” to be directed by Todd Field, and a remake of the 1978 action adventure “The Wild Geese,” with New Republic’s Brian Oliver. He exec produced Tom Cruise’s 2017 action-adventure “American Made” and is currently producing the upcoming television drama “Champagne Supernovas.”

Laudiero and Baker are represented by WME.