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Yellow Submarine remake officially announced

As  Beatlemania sweeps the world all over again this week with the issuing of the band’s remastered catalogue on CD and The Beatles: Rock Band video game, The Walt Disney Studios, The Beatles‘ company Apple Corps Ltd., and Robert Zemeckis’ Disney-owned studio ImageMovers Digital officially announced today at the D23 Expo that a deal has been struck to “develop a new 3D performance capture adaptation  of the 1968 hit animated film Yellow Submarine to be written and  directed by Robert Zemeckis”.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook made the announcement, confirming Hollywood trade publication Variety‘s report from last month which said a deal was in the works —news that rankled many but made me very happy.

The film will incorporate 16 of the Beatles’ original recordings, including classic songs like “All You Need Is Love”, “Eleanor Rigby”, and “Lucy  in the Sky with Diamonds”. No target release year or date was mentioned, but there seems no reason to doubt Variety‘s claim of Summer 2012, considering the factual accuracy of the rest of their story.

Again, this is simply a dream collaboration: “one of the most exciting and anticipated project’s coming from Disney” in the next few years, as I put it in my earlier post. To have Disney and Robert Zemeckis put breathtaking 3-D images to the lyrics and melodies of the Beatles’ songs should prove to be quite an experience for moviegoers.

Interestingly, in the mini documentary included with remastered version of the Yellow Submarine album released on Wednesday, Paul McCartney conspicuously mentions Disney at least twice as an influence on the Beatles’ decision to create the original Yellow Submarine animated film (poster pictured), released in 1968.

The complete press release, with extended quotes from Cook, Zemeckis, and Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones, after the jump.



Anaheim,  California — September 11, 2009  — The Walt Disney Studios has made a  deal with Apple Corps Ltd. to develop a new 3D performance capture adaptation  of the 1968 hit animated film “Yellow Submarine” to be written and  directed by Robert Zemeckis, it was announced  today at the D23 Expo by Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt  Disney Studios. The film will be created by ImageMovers Digital, Disney’s state-of-the-art performance capture animation studio operated in conjunction with Zemeckis and his partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey, who will serve as producers on the project.

For this fantastic new voyage to Pepperland, Zemeckis will incorporate the 16 Beatles songs and recordings from the original motion picture licensed from Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC and EMI-Capitol Records, respectively.  The songs include “All Together Now,” “All You Need Is Love,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lucy  in the Sky with Diamonds” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” while combining his unique vision and style to bring this dazzling tale to life.

In making the announcement, Cook said, “This is truly an inspired collaboration, and a wonderful opportunity to revisit one of the most imaginative and memorable musical fantasies of all time.  To be working with the amazing folks at Apple Corps, and to have Bob helming the sub is truly as good as it gets.  With all those incredible Beatles songs and imagery, the spectacular vision of Bob and his pioneering team at ImageMovers Digital, and a classic adventure full of wit and action, we’re sure that moviegoers are going to have a great time on this latest trip to Pepperland.”

Zemeckis said, “’Yellow Submarine’ is one of the  greatest fantasy films of all time, and making this new 3D performance capture  movie is a dream come true for me.  With the latest advances in technology, we will be able to take moviegoers on a voyage unlike any other, and bring new excitement and dimension to Pepperland and the various sea worlds they encounter. I’m thrilled to be working with the good folks at Apple Corps and our partners at Disney on this epic retelling of one of my all time favorite films.”

Jeff Jones, CEO, Apple Corps Ltd., said, “With The Beatles and Walt Disney Studios, we have a partnership between two of the best loved creative entities in the world.  We’re very excited about the magical fantasy that will result from this collaboration.  The marriage of the music of The Beatles with the talent and technical wizardry of Robert Zemeckis and ImageMovers Digital should produce something very special.  We look forward to working with Bob and his team on realising his new vision for ‘Yellow Submarine’”.

The original motion picture (released in the U.S. on November 13, 1968) based on the music of The Beatles was directed by George Dunning and featured the inspired art direction and design of Heinz Edelmann. The movie is set in Pepperland, an undersea paradise inhabited by music lovers who live in peace and harmony and are protected by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That is…until they are threatened by the music hating Blue Meanies.   It’s up to John, Paul, George and Ringo to set off on a magical adventure in their yellow submarine and bring music and harmony back to Pepperland.

About The Walt Disney Studios

The Walt Disney Studios is a unit of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and produces and distributes motion pictures under the following banners: Walt Disney Pictures (which include live-action movies, animated feature films from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios) as well as Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films.  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International serves as the Studio’s international distribution arm.  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment distributes Disney and other film titles to the rental and sell-through home entertainment markets.  Disney Theatrical Group is among the world’s most successful commercial theatre enterprises producing or licensing live entertainment events that reach a global annual audience of more than 20 million people in more than 40 countries, and the Disney Music Group distributes original music and motion picture soundtracks under its three record labels: Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records and Lyric Street Records.

About Apple Corps.  Ltd.

Apple Corps Ltd. was founded by The Beatles in 1968 to look after the group’s own affairs. The London-based company has administered the catalogue of The Beatles releases of the 1960s that have sold to date more than 600 million records, tapes and CDs. Since the 1990s Apple has piloted new Beatles projects that have become benchmarks for pioneering accomplishment and which have included The Beatles Anthology projects, the 28 million-selling album The Beatles 1 and the The Beatles LOVE show and CD.  Further information on The Beatles’ projects can be found at

22 thoughts on “Yellow Submarine remake officially announced”

  1. I concur with idogcow…not really looking forward to this. I’ve been rather unimpressed with most mocap performaces I’ve seen (the only ones I can really think of that were well done were Gollum and Kong, but both of those were Weta Digital and Andy Serkis, not Zemeckis).

    Some things should just be left well enough alone.

    Now if it were to be done in the style of the cinematic from the “Beatles Rock Band” trailer from a few months back, then I might be more optimistic…

  2. By what standards is the is a dream project? The original Yellow Sub movie was fantastic because it defied every Disney rule in the book. If it had been a Disney product back then it would have looked like Jungle Book.

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  4. David–funny you mention that. The vultures in The Jungle Book were originally going to be voiced by The Beatles (with a song written for them in the style of the Fab Four’s…style). But, then, you probably already knew that and were making an in-joke or something. …I’ll shut up now.

    Seriously though…a motion capture remake? Really? Well, hopefully the graphics won’t be in Rob Zemerbie’s typical HAIPER REEL style. I’d much prefer it how it is in the Rock Band Beatles game. Not that I think the remake’s a good idea, but hey–as long as their not hiding their songs away. The kiddies will at the very least be exposed to real music. Though I wonder if they’ll be using George Martin’s original score and if they’ll release a THIRD soundtrack (first the original LP, then the songtrack, now…?).

  5. Disney of today is not the Disney of 1968. Disney understands its own old-time limitations on projects like this and basically merely fund or sponsor these rather than actually keep themselves deeply involved in the production. I say that I would probably rather not have it made, but I will probably love the result anyway. Plus I think it will be great to introduce the kids to the Beatles music!!!

    1. “Plus I think it will be great to introduce the kids to the Beatles music!!!”

      Or you could, y’know, show them the original Yellow Submarine. :-)

  6. The Disney animation of today is overseen by John Lasseter – and his vision is not the same as the ones that created Yellow Submarine original. We’re talking working with a tight fisted budget, unique design and innovative animation that dazzles all the synapses, Beatle-esque puns, no PC moralizing, just a fun mad odyssey, some terror, some tears, some joy and great music and wonderful fun. This is sure to be a bland boat ride, even if it is Zemeckis directing.

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  8. I agree with most of the other comments. A reamake of yellow submarine in 3D animation sucks. The original film is perfect as it is. I don´t like Zemicks new works, the polarexpres,christmascarol and beowolf.
    Yes gollum was very well done(just not by Zemick), but the point is that there is no reason to make a new version of Yellow Submarine.

    The original movie already has everything what they are claming to produce.

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  10. WHY don’t they do a sequel instead with 16 different Beatles songs or change some of the songs in the new version? Otherwise it’s going to be like watching a repeat! Oh and my Dad got ‘Hey Bulldog’put back into the film some years ago when it was shown on TV (by writing to the TV Channel.)

  11. Well, I would like to be optimistic, but the shots that I have seen from Christmas Carol and others of their ilk do not make me feel comfortable that they are going to do a good job. They might well ruin it, but I can always watch the old version, so hey, there is hope.
    While I am all for new technology (loved Avatar, totally loved it), there is something very capitalistic about remaking Yellow Submarine. The original is brilliant, the art exquisite, and the storyline timeless. My daughter was brought up on the original and at 12, is a Beatles fanatic. When we went to see Across the Universe, we poked each other at all of the references (and there were many)
    I think it is more about parent involvement that will introduce kids to the Beatles, not remakes of perfectly good films. My feelings are the same for this as they were for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debate: don’t turn it into something it is not, don’t remake it and change the story, and don’t make it stupid. Kids have enough stupid influences (many by Disney or Nickelodeon) that parents have to contend with. Don’t give them more.

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