Will nothing STOP Robert Zemeckis?

Disney’s second animated release of 2011 (following Gnomeo and Juliet) will be the latest Robert Zemeckis/Imagemovers film, Mars Needs Moms. It will open in March. Simon Wells directs this motion capture feature, based on Berkely Breathed’s book. A mo-cap remake of Yellow Submarine is next.

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)


  • http://animationanomaly.com Charles K. (The Animation Anomaly)

    I simply cannot fathom why motion capture is needed for something like this. If you’re going to have to create space AND another planet along with everything that goes along with such things, can it really be that much more work to animated the characters also?

    If such accurate replication of movements were necessary, rotoscoping would have been obsolete decades ago.

    • Tee

      Say, you were an unimaginative slob with an outsized ego, for example. Producing something like this might make perfect sense.

    • Jay

      First of all, everyone here knows that even though it is mocap a lot of the animation will be fixed/tweaked (or completely redone) by hand. Mocap is a publicity stunt, in the end the animation is cleaned and polished in the same way as every other 3d animated movie.

      Second, the last movie that used mocap and had artists “create space AND another planet along with everything that goes along with such things” made 2.7 Billion dollars worldwide. That’s enough incentive for studios to continue that process in future movies.

      Third, call Zemeckis what you want but the man who brought us Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future trilogy, Forrest Gump, Contact, Cast Away, etc is anything but an “unimaginative slob”.

      • The Gee

        10/18/10-
        So you are saying nothing will stop Zemekis.
        I agree. Though it is probably fairer to note that only Zemekis could stop himself; if he chose to just focus on other things, for instance.

        While I only mentioned Polar Express in response to a question below, all of those movies you mentioned give him the cred to experiment any which way he wants. He’s got latitude, just like Cameron has latitude.

        That said, I still don’t like shortform, childrens book stories being made into features.

  • The Gee

    I don’t know why I’ve never felt good about this production.

    I have qualms about features being made from childrens storybooks. Especially recently published ones. Too soon, too much, too too…

    Add a dash of Zemekis and ….?

    Hey. Much success to the film, whenever it is released…Zemekis has delivered before on these adaptations so who knows…

    Is there a trailer or teaser up yet or is it just a poster?

    • holyduck

      When has he delivered before? On which adaptations?

      • The Gee

        By “delivered” I mean enough of a box office that he can make another film.

        And, for precedent: The Polar Express.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a crap about mocap. In fact, I have yet to be able to get through The Polar Express. That’s the only feature I’ve seen that relies heavily on it.

        And, yeah. Zemekis to some is the kiss of death for quality, watchability, likeability, etc. I’m sure some will post: ban the bum!

        But…whatever…either this adaptation/film will work or it won’t. Either it will be a hit or it won’t.

        And, since it ain’t out yet, why fret?

  • tedzey

    Mars may need my mother, but they’ll never get my $10.50!!!!!!! NEVER!!!!!

    • randy V

      $10.50? This is a 3D movie so we’re talking $18 at least.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        By the time it comes out, I’ll say $20!

      • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

        I miss when movies were like 5.50

      • Chris Sobieniak

        $3 for me!

      • Teri

        My mom grew up in the 70s and told me they once cost 10 cents. I tell ya, if they cost that much today, I’d be at the movies every week.
        But not to see this. Because I predict epic fail.

      • http://www.jeff-pert.com Jeff P

        I grew up in the ’70s, and movies cost more than 10 cents. That’s what my Dad paid back in the 40s!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Don’t even get me started on Yellow Submarine, that’s the furthest from my mind.

    • MichaelHughes

      Even assuming the Yellow Submarine is gonna be totally against the spirit of the visuals of the original, I still can’t wait. As long as they use some different songs here and there and change around the script, it might be okay.

  • Sam

    It’s bad enough a LOT of people lost their job when IMD closed down, as bad as this movie can be, there’s no need to add salt to the wound.

  • Matt Bell

    @ Mars Needs Moms & Yellow Submarine:
    If you can make a good movie, then just don’t make a movie…use the time, energy and money on something else.
    *sigh*
    At any rate, I hope these are both better than I expect them to be, simply so that they justify the extensive use of the three things listed above.

  • holyduck

    Wasn’t there a headline released a while ago about how Disney closed his mo-cap studio?!

    • NC

      Nothing will stop him!!!! Dear GOD RUN!!!!!

      • holyduck

        AAAAAAAAAAHHH! *runs*

        Upon further research, people seem divided on whether or not The Yellow Submarine will happen. A cast member has stated it won’t, and yet, the Wiki article and IMDB article are still up, yet they say Imagine Movers already closed. Huh?

  • Cody

    Wasn’t Yellow Sub scrapped after Disney shuttered Imagemovers? I thought this was their last mo-cap production before following in line with Disney’s ‘Secret Lab’…

    • MichaelHughes

      I think they just shut down the full time studio with a full time crew, and he’ll do these projects like normal movies, going per project.

  • http://www.base14.com Tyler

    Can’t wait to get me some mo-cap Roger Rabbit II.

    • http://www.copernicus.ca Murray Bain

      “marvin acme. The rabbit cacked him”

      mo-cack.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        And then next thing you know there might be a run on Roger Rabbit II merch at your local Toy Cack!

  • Rooniman

    I think Robort Zemeckis left his brain at the looney joint.

  • Toonio

    Zemeckis destroyed his career as many other directors who succumbed to the big mouse.

  • http://jackmunchproductions.blogspot.com/ Malcolm Thomas

    The only bright side to this is that it’s the LAST Mo-cap movie from Zemeckis.

  • Josh

    First it was “Beowulf” and “Christmas Carol” now this Robert Zemeckis is now Jack the Ripper of book! He need to be stopped!

  • pappy d

    How could Zemeckis be so vain NOT to see what animation can contribute? I was prepared to give him directing credit on “Roger Rabbit” (moral credit, I mean) but maybe he’s stricken with autism or something.

    At least, Simon Wells has directed animation before. There’s a faint hope that they “fixed it in post”.

    It’s bound to be popular with underappreciated moms.

    • NC

      And it doesn’t help that that A-hole Cameron strokes his fire.

    • pheslaki

      What does autism have to do with that? Ignorant statement.

      • pappy d

        You wouldn’t understand.

  • optimist

    It’s written and directed by Simon Wells, who cowrote with his wife Wendy. I’d imagine it will be more his film than anyone else’s.

  • Scarabim

    Robert Zemeckis is another George Lucas.

    What has happened to my heroes????

    *sigh* Oh, well, I still have Uncle Walt.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    When I finally watched BEOWULF this year I was surprised at how good it is. MONSTER HOUSE is enjoyable in many places. I couldn’t watch enough POLAR EXPRESS to make a judgment because it was sort of repulsive. I don’t know the source material, but MARS MOMS could be okay – especially if it’s R-rated and has lots of gore and salacious glances between unmarried characters.

    • http://www.warrenleonhardt.com w

      Ratings imply the results are better if the salacious glances are directed at married people, made by married people…

  • http://kecky.etsy.com kecky

    Oh god, oh god, I thought Yellow Submarine had been scrapped, PLEASE tell me it’s still scrapped, oh god….

    • holyduck

      People … don’t really know if it’s scrapped or not.

  • Mr. Dominex

    I was also surprised at how good BEOWULF was, because it had a good story. Mo-cap can be convincing, look at AVATAR. It all depends.

    • http://kelseighn.blogspot.com Kelseigh

      To be fair, Avatar was mo-cap PLUS an army of animators to tweak it afterwards, and a competent director at the helm who let them do it. That isn’t Zemeckis’ model.

  • rghbr

    Wait…Gnomeo and Juliet was Disney’s doing?
    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    • tedzey

      I think it was made by another studio; however the mouse is distributing it. Its like “The Brave Little Toaster,” which I went on through my life thinking it was 100% disney until I realized it was made at Hyperion.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It certainly was a film that made you think so until you read the end credits! My first exposure to that had to be on The Disney Channel around ’88 or so.

    • Steve

      Not Disney Feature. Gnomeo was made at Stars Animation in Toronto

  • http://www.mike2d.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

    I know Robert Zemekis gets a bad rap around here, but I personally don’t see anything wrong with this. The childrens book by Breathed is excellent source material, and if they manage to keep his humor in tact, it could be a really great, fun film. I’m not a huge mocap Zemekis fan, but I thought Monster House and Christmas Carol were both pretty solid movies. We’ll have to see when Mars Needs Moms comes out, but I’m looking forward to it.

    • Tim

      Yes. Finally. Somebody has a head on their shoulders. Why is everybody else all “Zemeckis is the devil! Mo-Cap is so terrible!” Sure, there are some flaws with the technology, but most people ignore the fact that if there was no Polar Express, Beowulf, etc… there would be no technology for Avatar or King Kong, two movies which I think are overrated. But of course, nobody here will say that. LIke sheep, they just agree with the majority.

  • Alan

    Sorry–but this looks awful. And Wells cannot tell a good story–very weak director.

  • Bruce

    It’s funny that there’s so much ‘Zemeckis hate’ going on here because the film is directed by SIMON WELLS. And you know how awesome his previous film was.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Yeah, poster is cringe inducing, BUT…

    This movie isn’t made for YOU. it’s not MADE FOR ANGRY ANIMATORS who constantly feel burned by Disney.

    What if this movie was great? What if it was an Iron Giant style GEM that you never saw because you were too close minded and indignant to see?

    Oh sure, there’s a 50-50 chance it’ll be awful. Disney has a bad track record for these kinds of films.But THE FILM ISN’T OUT YET! You’re judging a one sheet poster.

    How bitter are you guys? * sits back and waits for this message to be dumped or un-posted*

    • Su

      No one said it was made for them… Aren’t people free to their opinion regardless that they’re not the target audience? Don’t they have that natural right?
      According to YOU they’re not.
      So we’ll shut up just for YOU.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/VujadeEntertainment#p/u/0/3HaupcJwAdk Steve Schnier

    I’m a great believe in “The Market”. If “Mars Needs Moms” is good, chances are that it will find an audience. If it’s not good it will fade into obscurity, making it harder to finance similar films, so it all balances out.

    You can’t compare “Mars Needs Moms” to “Polar Express”, as PE is based on a (now classic) children’s book. My kids are grown, so I don’t know the market for Berkely Breathed’s book. Maybe there’s a huge demand for this movie. I dunno.

    That said, there is money to be made producing these films at the moment. Shaddup and take the cash.

    • pappy d

      Have you considered producing porn?

  • Maxie

    I had created something about his obsession months ago: http://yfrog.com/bhrobzsobsessionp

  • David Breneman

    “Yellow Submarine” wouldn’t be the same without crummy animation. The whole point of the film was that you were supposed to get stoned off your butt and do the in-betweening in your mind. At least if that wasn’t the point, I don’t know what was.

    I always like the fact that the animation in the “Yellow Submarine Sandwich” segment in “All You Need is Cash” (the Rutles) was actually better than the animation it was parodying.

    • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

      Well, that’s because “Cheese and Onions” is so on-target as a parody, it’s even on Beatles bootleg albums.

      …which begs the question, will The Rutles parody the Yellow Submarine remake using primitive, outdated motion capture from the early 1980s?

  • http://kosterreicherportfolio.blogspot.com/ Kristi O.

    I have to say, I did enjoy Monster House, but the Mo-Cap does lessen my liking of the movie. The characters figet and shimmy around, and the moments where characters are suspended by another don’t have any weight to them (No doubt because they used some sort of harness to lift them up during the capture stage). All in all it’s somewhat distracting, but at the same time I found the movie enjoyable and would definitely watch it again.

    I don’t mind the idea of using Mo-cap to capture a base performance, but I think that it’s integral for animators to do a little spit-shine to smooth out the movements. That said, I don’t think that a movie made with Motion-capture should be automatically slammed. It’s always best to wait until the movie comes out before you start voicing your opinion, who knows maybe the movie won’t be so bad?

  • jtOuimet1913

    You might be surprised! Simon Wells IS the great grandson of H.G. Wells, who pretty much INVENTED the martian we all imagine today! And looking at his resume, he’s got quite the potential to make a pretty good movie. Though he also directed “The Time Machine,” which people feel was a great big dump on his great grandfather’s tombstone, I thought it held up as a different re imagination of the book that didn’t copy it verbatim.

    And what else can I say, other than that HE DIRECTED BALTO! The COOLEST wolf movie EVER!

  • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

    This is going to out me as a lover of obscure Late Night with David Letterman sketches, but I’d like to see an animated film made out of Mars Needs a Shave and a Hot Meal. Robert Smigel could really make something out of that.

  • Levi

    Guys, this is Simon Wells who is directing the movie. Prince of Egypt anyone? And he is a fantastic storyboard artist with a great sense of story and action. You guys focus way too much on technique and not enough on what the actual story will be. And besides we all know that motion capture is not 100% used in the end. Christmas Carol ended having to key frame the face and hands to get better “poses”. Avatar needed major key framed tweaks as well. At the end of the day the overall presentation and story is whats going to matter to people. They don’t come out saying, my god!…that camera they used for that action shot was bleepin’ brilliant! At least not for the average viewer.

    • http://onkelchrispy.livejournal.com/ Onkel Chrispy

      First of all, stop starting sentences with “and”. Secondly, the overall presentation of Christmas Carol was abhorrent. It was a bland, lazy retelling. Avatar, while exciting and technologically amazing had a story that was very derivative of several movies. The art direction in Avatar, was an almost direct ripoff of Roger Deans artwork.

      Overall presentation and story ARE important, but your examples are preposterous. Mo-cap has been used exactly once properly, and that was in Avatar. I can assure you, it wont be used at all properly when/if they make “Yellow Submarine” and “Mars Needs Moms” won’t be 1/10000th as visually appealing as Berkely Breathed’s book. Wanna know why? I’ll tell you. Because filmmakers could use all technological wizardry available to present a marvelously told story that won’t mean jack sh!t if there’s no love, heart, passion invested in the crafting of the film. Take “Up” or the original “Yellow Submarine” or Berkely Breathed’s book “Mars Needs Moms”, all are wonderful and brilliant because of the care put into them. Not because of the demographic they were aiming at, or the ‘technique’, or the story, or the return in revenue. C’mon!

  • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

    I wish he’d do something like Monster House again.

  • Caresse

    I was very upset with Beowulf because I’m a huge fan of the book, and I really envisioned a film version being much different and I had hoped for a Korpiklaani-filled soundtrack.

    And though the movement in Polar Express freaks me out, my three year old nephew LOVES IT. Just like he loves Thomas the Tank Engine despite its’ choppy animation. If it pleases the target audience, that’s probably what matters most.

    Is a painting made to match living room decor necessarily an amazing masterpiece? No, but it serves its’ purpose.

  • Yves

    Why don’t they pour millions into the R&D of taking digital images of people and things that AREN’T moving? The result could be called STILLCAP! I might be onto something here.

  • http://www.stopmotionworld.com SMW

    Somebody please stop him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what is next a collaboration between him and James Cameron?
    I can only imagine that… Super 3d in your face with all the actors in 3d!!! Blowing up stuff in 3d just because they can!

  • Larry Koster

    Blue Sky Disney has a post up that has a link to an interview with David Tennant where he says that Yellow Submarine is not happening.

    • s.w.a.c.

      Was that on the U.K.’s Paul O’Grady show? Tennant said that the film “has gone away” and that he doesn’t “think it’s happening now.”

      But even more recently, during interviews promoting the umpteenth new release of Back to the Future, Zemeckis has said production is still moving ahead.

      As a long-time Beatles fan, I hope Dr. Who is right and Dr. Robert is wrong.

      (Personally, I wish he’d team up with Bob Gale again. I miss the Zemeckis that made I Want to Hold Your Hand and Used Cars. His work used to have bite, now it just bites.)

  • Mark Reeves

    The poster seems to be an attempt at quasi-realism, which seems like the biggest shame to me. If your source material is Berkeley Breathed, can’t you get him on board for storyboarding and art direction to maintain the soul of Breathed’s award-winning illustrative style? Seems a waste to me. Don’t let Disney get ahold of the rights to Opus and Bill and try to do them with a live-action penguin and cat.

  • Val

    This poster looks just like the parody poster for “Disney’s Doctor Who” movie.

  • John

    Lets hope with Simon Wells there will be better facial animation on this film.There’s been key frame animators on Avatar post motion capture, and same has been done on King Kong and as well as Davey Jones. The success on those films was due to the animator improving the motion capture data. If they just get good animators to enhance the facial and physical performances then these motion capture films under Zemeckis would have be better received!

  • John

    In Polar Express the engineers were key framed, something to do with one of the actors dying on the film, and only had enough time to offer his dialogue for the film. You can clearly se a difference in quality, especially when next to the Tom Hanks motion captures performance The key framed performance was actually a performance not a dead mimic of the one in Tom Hanks CG creation. So I say why do motion capture when with animation you get a better result?

  • my 2 cents

    Mo-Cap is to filmmaking as American Idol is to talented musicians.
    And he screws with Yellow Submarine…I hope there will be hell to pay.

  • http://thelift.kohrtoons.com Robert Kohr

    MoCap is wonderful for sports video games… thats about it.

  • Sweet Geezus make it stop

    Can we officially start the boycott of this film now? If people stop paying money to see these, maybe they’ll stop making such crimes against the Eye.

    Yellow Submarine? Really? Why? why. why.