We won’t be sailing on director Robert Zemeckis’ version of Yellow Submarine anytime soon. His planned remake of the classic animated Beatles film has been canceled by the Walt Disney Co., where the director had been developing it. This new version would have used motion capture-driven animation and featured 16 songs from the Beatles catalog.
Although the project has been having a troubled development process, there is some debate as to when the ax fell on it. The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Submarine was finally scuttled after this past weekend’s poor box office take of the Zemeckis-produced Mars Needs Moms. The film pulled just under $7 million against its reported $150 budget.
Meanwhile, Deadline is reporting that the film was dead in the water at a much earlier time. They point to the fact that Disney had announced months ago their plans to shut down Zemeckis’ animation studio ImageMovers Digital following the wrap on Mars Needs Moms as proof.
Although Zemeckis has been a champion of themotion capture animation process, his last couple of forays into the field as a director – 2009’s A Christmas Carol and 2007’s Beowulf – both underperformed at the box office.
While Zemeckis is free to shop the film elsewhere, it is uncertain whether he will do so or not. His original plan was to have it ready for a London premier to coincide with the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, though that now looks to be a rather tough deadline to meet.
I’m not one who holds everything that the Beatles ever touched as sacred, so I was not too upset when the project was first announced in August 2009. I think that if Zemeckis was looking to move away from trying to make realistic-looking motion capture animation and was looking to map the original film’s psychedelic character design onto realistic, motion-captured movement we could have been in for a real visual treat.