Rob Marshall explained to me why they cut Javier Bardem’s song: 

“Well, he’s a spectacular singer, and he does it with such passion. It was a very powerful song about Ariel herself and the frustration. But what was interesting, it wasn’t really for time that we cut it. It was mostly because it robbed from the ending. When you’re creating new material, you don’t know. The film tells you as you work on it. 

“We had so many new pieces, so many new songs and sequences that we were bringing to this to make it a fully live-action piece […] You have to keep that friction to the very moment when he actually embraces her and hears her, maybe for the first time. So that’s what really what led it. It was story.”

John DeLuca added that the song “cut some of the air from his character and the conflict that he and Eric had.” Triton wants to protect his daughter from haveing the same fate as her mother; being killed by someone — like Eric — who lives on land. What we see through the film is Triton trying to control his youngest daughter. A reveal that early in the story, that he treated Ariel the way he did because he loved her deeply and just wanted to keep her safe would have robbed the film of a lot of its tension.

“The Little Mermaid” premieres in theaters on May 26, 2023.