Mars Needs Moms failure kills Zemeckis' Yellow Submarine remake

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:51 PM EST

If you've ever seen the 1968 movie Yellow Submarine, you know it's a psychedelic animated film starring the Beatles, who battle the invading Blue Meanies with their music. And if you were looking forward to a modern update brought to you by Robert Zemeckis—director of Back to the Future, Contact and Beowulf—well, we have bad news for you. Disney has scuttled the ship.

Zemeckis' newest movie, Mars Needs Moms, earned a depressingly low $6.9 million on its opening weekend, especially when you consider it took $150 million to send those moms to Mars.

A year and a half after the initial announcement, and with the cast and crew already hired, Disney has just cut Yellow Submarine loose. It's officially adrift at sea as Zemeckis decides whether to submit it to another studio or to start a new project altogether.

But according to Reuters and Hollywood Reporter, the financial cataclysm that is Mars Needs Moms wasn't the only reason Disney didn't set Yellow Submarine on its course:

... 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.

Not every studio feels that way about motion-capture technology. Take DreamWorks. Steven Spielberg is currently directing The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn using the same techniques used on the set of another film that relied on motion capture: Avatar.