At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Robert Zemeckis was asked which of his own movies he’d like to remake in his now-signature performance capture style.
Surprisingly, Zemeckis didn’t go for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or Back To The Future, or Contact – he plumped instead for I Wanna Hold Your Hand, his 1978 debut film about a group of kids desperately trying to see The Beatles on their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. “I could render the Beatles,” he told us at the time, “I wouldn’t have to hide them. They could just be there. Maybe we’ll remake that one – that would be fun.”
Fast-forward to today, and it seems that something that was said might have set Zemeckis’ brain-train in motion, for it’s just been announced that the director is planning to sail in to the motion capture sun until he finds the motion capture sea of green. And if you know your Beatles, that means that he’s going to remake Yellow Submarine, in cahoots with Disney.
The original Yellow Submarine, lest we forget, was a 1968 animated affair in which The Fab Four were brought from Liverpool to the Land of Submarines, to help Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band see off the music hating Blue Meanies. Insert your own usages of “psychedelic” and “wacky” here. The Beatles themselves didn’t provide the voice work, although the music was obviously theirs, and they did show up at the end.
Negotiations for the project, which may well involve a Lion King-style stage show, have been going on for months, according to Variety, and have involved masses of lawyers. No wonder, for the rights to The Beatles’ songs are notoriously entangled (even before Michael Jackson’s death), and using the originals in movies has proved a task beyond directors like Wes Anderson.
Zemeckis, though, seems to have secured rights to classic Beatles tracks like All You Need Is Love, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Baby, You’re A Rich Man and All Together Now (all gems from the group’s psychedelic phase, man). There’s been no word yet on the involvement of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving Beatles (Ringo, of course, provides the vocals for the Yellow Submarine song), or even producer George Martin (who wrote much of the music for the film), but it’s hard to imagine them not being involved somewhere down the line. Zemeckis strikes me as too much of a Beatles fan to allow that to happen.
But at the moment, we’re in the dark about this. It’s very early days yet, negotiations are still ongoing, and that seems to be all the news that’s fit to print, save that the movie should be ready before the 2012 Olympics.
We have to say, we’re hugely excited by this. There’s a fairly decent-sized part of us that would like to see Zemeckis return to live-action filmmaking, but it’s hard to stop our mouths watering at the extraordinary visual potential of this project. After all, the recent promo for The Beatles Rock Band videogame showed the surreal promise inherent in the group’s songs. I’d imagine that a mocapped Yellow Submarine would blow this out of the water.