The Walt Disney Co. has deep-sixed Mars Needs Moms producer Robert Zemeckis’ planned next project for the studio, the high-profile remake of the classic Beatles film Yellow Submarine, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Submarine was already facing a few rocky reefs before this weekend. There were budget issues, and a key presentation Zemeckis was to have made before the Beatles heirs kept being pushed back. A December date for the confab was scrapped and never rescheduled. But sources say the disastrous $6.9 million opening for the $150 million-budgeted Mars, produced by Zemeckis, guaranteed that Submarine would never set sail at Disney. The producer-director is now free to shop the project to another studio.
How big a bomb is Mars Needs Moms? Brooks Barnes in The New York Times wrote:
The box office bomb Hall of Fame – “Ishtar,” “The Alamo,” “Cutthroat Island,” “Gigli,” “Speed Racer” – has a new member. “Mars Needs Moms” cost $150 million to make (excluding marketing) and managed to bring in only $6.8 million in North American ticket sales over the weekend. What happened? Unappealing alien characters, a tepid marketing campaign, family film gridlock at theaters and the movie’s antifeminist undertones contributed. But Hollywood will read this Walt Disney Studios flop as a rejection of Robert Zemeckis’s style of “performance-capture” animated filmmaking.
Mr. Zemeckis, please return to live action photography of human actors. You were great at that. Forget The Beatles, forget Roger Rabbit. Go back-to-the-future and pick up a camera.
Meanwhile animators can go back to their craft, creating “the illusion of life” frame by frame, safe in the knowledge that actors wearing ping-pong balls won’t be invading their turf – and audiences can go back to watching real actors in digital environments, with faces that won’t offend their eyes. And it’ll be safe for everyone to go back to the movies.