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Disney scuttled Yellow Submarine animated movie

Reuters reports that Robert Zemeckis’ $150 million-budgeted “Mars Needs Moms” opening weekend flop was the last straw in a project to remake The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and that Disney has pulled its support.

The plan was to use 16 Beatles songs in the film, which was to employ motion-capture technology similar to that used in Zemeckis’ “Beowulf,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Mars Needs Moms.” Zemeckis secured the cooperation of Apple Corps, which controls the rights to the group’s library. (Its movie arm, Apple Films, was one of the companies behind the original picture.)

But in the wake of the box-office disappointment of 2009’s “Christmas Carol,” and with other animated movies pushing the envelope in terms of aesthetics, there were also concerns within Disney about the look of motion capture, especially the way human characters are depicted. (“Creepy” is the word often used.) Those same concerns, insiders say, led to Disney shutting down Zemeckis’ ImageMovers studio in May 2010.

Community Comments

#1 Neal Skorpen
March/16/2011
@ 9:24 am

Best decision Disney ever made.

#2 Rob Cabrera
March/16/2011
@ 9:32 am

The uncanny valley is still too wide for motion capture to visually work in a movie like “Mars Needs Moms”.

Personally, I thought it looked creepy.

#3 Brian Fies
March/16/2011
@ 10:07 am

Yep–the Uncanny Valley strikes again. I don’t know what the concept for the film was, but if they intended to CGI the Beatles, the idea of resurrecting two of them to speak and act like puppet-zombies jerked around by computer technicians is terrible.

But more on point, I think: why would anyone want to remake Yellow Submarine, which is a little gem that perfectly captures its time and place? Watch the original. No update needed.

#4 Pete McDonnell
March/16/2011
@ 11:52 am

I had heard about this Yellow Sub remake, and couldn’t really picture how that would work. If they intended to re-create it with computer animation, it might have been…interesting. But motion capture looks weird. This ‘Mars Needs Moms’ disaster is hopefully going to be the end of entire films being created with that technology.

#5 David Rickert
March/16/2011
@ 4:59 pm

Maybe they should just rerelease the DVD instead.

#6 Rob Cabrera
March/17/2011
@ 7:03 am

I get why they would want to remake Yellow Submarine. Considering how visually creative Across the Universe used Beatles songs, there is something there that could work in CGI.

The problem I’ve learned with motion capture while studying 3D animation at the Academy of Art is that it captures real movement a little too well instead of the romanticized movement that trained animators can provide characters. The difference between the two creates a subconscious uneasy feeling in our minds that something in CGI is moving with that much human precision.

With motion capture there is not the filter for the movement that exists when an animator handles a character in a program. The movement of characters is crafted rather than replicated. That’s why a movie like Tangled “feels” better animated than Mars Needs Moms.

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