The success and/or failure of project often has a domino effect. And so when the Robert Zemeckis-produced Mars Needs Moms opened to less than $7 Million on a $150 Million budget this weekend, Walt Disney Studios has responded by shuttering his Fab Four project Yellow Submarine, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film had already been cast with Cary Elwes as George Harrison, Dean Lennox Kelly as John Lennon, Peter Serafinowicz as Paul McCartney and Adam Campbell as Ringo Starr.
As The Hollywood Reporter noted, the production had already changed its initial release date, and though Zemeckis has been at the forefront of motion-capture technology, his most successful effort was his first: The Polar Express. His subsequent efforts – Beowulf and A Christmas Carol – did not do as well, with Carol a Christmas disappointment in that it did less than Express and made $137 Million domestically on a $200 Million budget. It also was unfortunate to open near Avatar, which used motion capture (or as it’s often referred to “mo-cap”) in ways audiences responded to with more enthusiasm.
The project is not necessarily dead, as Zemeckis can now shop the project around to other studios, and though there seems to be some questions about the remaining Beatles and their heirs signing off on the final project, working with Beatles music (sixteen songs were already picked for the film) may make this a project that lands elsewhere. But as a kids film there’s no denying that Disney would have the synergy down for any sort of ancillary sales – most specifically toys and games. Part of the question of why the film isn’t going forward may be the cut the studio gets of that – The Beatles likely would be in a situation similar to George Lucas, but if the world’s greatest house for movies aimed at children aren’t biting, that’s got to be a problem for the project.
That said, Walt Disney did not put their full support behind Mars Needs Moms, and the film had a weak release date for a picture aimed at children (off season, bracketed by other kids movies). At some point before release, it appears the film was deemed lesser. The picture originated with Disney when it was run by Dick Cook, and sometimes a regime change will let pictures green-lit by the older studio heads fail because it does the new team no favors. But also if they weren’t behind or didn’t like the finished film, it’s understandable they wouldn’t want to throw good money after bad.
Do you think it’s better for the Submarine flick to keep going or is it better to let it sink?