Disney Sinks Zemeckis’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ Plans

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With Mars Needs Moms flopping at the box office, Disney has decided to officially pass on producer/director Robert Zemeckis’ planned mo-cap remake of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The pass means Zemeckis — who’s made mo-cap CG animation his forte with such projects as The Polar Express, Monster House, Beowulf and Disney’s A Christmas Carol — can shop the project around to other studios. Zemeckis announced the project in the summer of 2009, later announcing that actors Cary Elwes, Dean Lennox Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz and Adam Campbell would play the Fab Four in the film.

Mars Needs Moms, which was based on a book by Berkeley Breathed and cost an estimated $150 million to make, grossed a meager $6.9 million in its opening weekend. That was a steep falloff from the success of Disney’s A Christmas Carol, which starred Jim Carrey in the mo-cap harness playing several characters in famous Dickens tale and earned $325 million worldwide despite weak reviews.

But the mo-cap and animation in Zemeckis’ movies was always controversial, even when it was pushing the envelope. It was, however, surpassed in one fell swoop by the more-realistic and appealing mo-cap work in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Zemeckis won an Oscar for directing 1994′s Best Picture winner, Forrest Gump, and was nominated for an original screenplay honor in 1985 for his work with Bob Gale on Back to the Future.

ImageMovers Digital, the effects company Zemeckis had set up in 1997 to make his mo-cap movies, was later acquired by Disney. Disney announced last year it would dissolve ImageMovers after work was completed on Mars Needs Moms because it no longer fit into the studio’s financial model.

According to The Reporter, Zemeckis is considering a live-action movie as his next project.

  • mattes

    Not a surprise. The trailers were utterly “off putting”, as was the overall lurid ugliness of the production design, art direction and look presented in them. Then there’s the “dead eye” “walking dead” feel of the characters. In Monster House this technical and artistic shortcoming kinda worked because the overall mood was supposed to be creepy.
    There’s nothing zombie-like about Breathed’s work. Why would anyone think that they could capture it without addressing this issue completely escapes me. But the miserable box office tells the story completely.