Monday, March 14, 2011

This Is Unsurprising

... when you think about it.

The Walt Disney Co. has scuttled a planned remake of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" being developed by the producer of its costly bomb "Mars Needs Moms," sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. ...

The so-so performance of Christmas Carol put IM Digital on thin ice. The rough cut of Mars Needs Moms finished it off. And Mars' opening weekend appears to have blown up the next feature sitting (uneasily) on the tarmac.

I can sort of see what Robert Zemeckis likes about c.g.i./mo-cap features, but I don't think the genre is resonating well with the viewing public. Maybe it's time for Mr. Zemeckis to return to his roots and direct an old-fashioned live-action movie.

Add On: The New York Times analyzes the failure of a major studio release:

... {T]he 3-D animated adventure [Mars Needs Moms is] on track to become one of the biggest box-office bombs in movie history ...

“Scary” is how Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, described the audience rejection of the film. “Was it the idea? The execution? The timing? There are a lot of excuses being floated.”

The financial impact on Disney’s studio will be severe. ...


Add On Too: The Nikkster's site has a different take on Yellow Submarine's demise.

Insiders at Disney are denying a Hollywood Reporter story that a lousy opening weekend for the Robert Zemeckis-produced animated film Mars Needs Moms sank Yellow Submarine, the 3D remake of the psychedelic animated Beatles film that Zemeckis had set up to direct at the studio in August, 2009. ...

Editorial! Get me rewrite!


Jc said...

I'm glad Disney finally came to their senses. Mocap is ok for video games and live action, but never for full 3d animated films. It doesn't look right. I hope Zemeckis does go back to making live action again, he live action stuff were great!

Anonymous said...

gotta admit, it looked better than rango. Film was better, too--although neither is quite Gnomeo and Juliet.

Anonymous said...

I love this idiotic paragraph from the New York Times article:

“Mars Needs Moms” also signals broader movie business problems. Computer animation has been Hollywood’s most reliable moneymaker over the last decade — so much so that nearly every studio, including Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures, has ramped up production of such films. As the first big-budget computer animated movie to flop, “Mars Needs Moms” tells some film executives that the market is becoming saturated.

So the market was big enough for Toy Story 3 and Tangled and How to Train Your Dragon and Yogi Bear and Despicable Me and Megamind and Gnomeo & Juliete and Rango and Shrek 4, but it's not big enough for Mars Needs Moms! Yeah, sure.

Somehow I think Hop and Rio and Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 will be just fine, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Er, wouldn't rush to lump Hop in there just yet (and Rio needs all the luck it can get), but the others look to be just fine, thanks.
But again, it's "CGI" that's having execs worried, and not that, say, audiences might know the difference between Mocap and Regular. It's a pretty safe bet media analysts don't.

Just looks like we'll have to wait longer for studios to find an excuse put the original Submarine on tie-in Blu-ray.
(Just as well, though: Z's version would've been too "reverential", and not have the kid-friendly Al Brodax BeatlesToon clumsiness of the original.)

Anonymous said...

IMD was a messy place that created lousy content. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

This just in! Audiences dont like movies that suck!

News at 11.

Anonymous said...

I can remember after the success of Lion King that every studio wanted their own pet animation department to be a money making machine. This lead to a bunch of animated films being put into production and the quality of the story telling slipping. Anyone remember The Pagemaster or Pebble and the Penguin? Is anyone else worried that Pixar/DW's success has lead to that same dynamic taking place now? Are their simply too many 3D films on the market? Is the medium loosing its luster? Box office would say no but still I have this nagging feeling that we are all whistling past the graveyard. Anyone else share my concerns?

Jay said...

"Mocap is ok for video games and live action, but never for full 3d animated films"

What is the difference between the mo-cap in a "live action" film like Avatar and an animated one like Mars? In both films, the mo-cap is used when 100% of the scene is CG. And in both films, the mo-cap was massaged (or completely redone) by a team of animators to make it even better. The former just has live action scenes cut in between full CG scenes.

Mo-cap is a tool that when used well can assist a director (and his/her animators) in recreating their vision. It doesn't matter if the vision is for a game, live action film, or animated feature. Sadly, we just haven't had a talented (mo-cap) director create the latter in that list yet.

Anonymous said...

Not really. As the above poster commented, Rio, Kung Fu Panda 2 and especially Cars 2 will make a whole lot of money.

Mars Needs Moms isn't even real animation. I do expect Tintin to be a big success (especially in Europe), so don't kiss motion-capture goodbye just yet.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between the mo-cap in a "live action" film like Avatar and an animated one like Mars?

James Cameron was smart enough to only use motion-capture for the aliens. There are no motion-captured humans in the film. Stephen Lang is a live-action actor on a live-action set, with other live-action actors.

Using motion-capture to create photo-realistic humans results in the creepy feeling people complain about. Using motion-capture to create creatures and non-human entities (ala Gollum, the Na'vi, Davy Jones) works fine.

Floyd Norman said...

Whatever happened to Zemickis the film maker?

Anonymous said...

You could see the warning signs when Zemeckis only seemed to be interested in human beings only as excuses to play with the latest computer-aided VFX technology:
Eg. some directors want to work with Meryl Streep, and some want to see what Meryl Streep would look like with her head on backwards...

stevenem said...

The New York Times article was not about film making, it was about investing. The subject could have just as easily been pork bellies. The money people never give up searching for the Holy Grail; the sure-fire investment. They always fail because that "sure thing" doesn't exist. Look at the housing market. That was the last Sure Thing, before that,it was ""

The fact is, quality can't be quantified. Everyone who tried to treat CG features as a commodity got soaked. We can all make a list.

As for "whistling past the graveyard," I don't believe it. There have been too many successful films. No single failure can kill the market.

Mars needs Moms, better than Rango? Seriously????

wha? said...

"This just in! Audiences dont like movies that suck!"

"Jackass 3"
"Justin Bieber Never say never"
"Hall pass"
"Pirahna 3d"
"Hanna Montana"
"Sex and the City"

People do seem to like movies that suck...

AR said...

Can I remind you a little word called: "Subjective"

Anonymous said...

"Eg. some directors want to work with Meryl Streep, and some want to see what Meryl Streep would look like with her head on backwards..."


Anonymous said...

> IMD was a messy place that created lousy content.

Two words: Rolling Cart!

They brought hard liquor right to your desk
on a rolling cart. (Strictly for keeping up morale.)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the "lousy place/messy content."

I worked contract at IMD for a majority of its run. IMD had some major issues internally within the way it operated. Originally, the philosophy was composed of no hierarchy leaving responsibility in the hands of anyone who could point a finger. Intensions were aimed high, but the blinders were on for the upper-level management. It was a facility that seemed to run like Lord of the Flies; a bunch of kids messing around while Mom and Dad were away... in IMD's case, the Mom and Dad were the directors. But these kids were completely qualified because several of them had Cinefex subscriptions.

That being said, the talent/worker-bees at IMD was extraordinary and I've never seen so many talented artists in one company, pumping out as much work in as much time. Its sad that the artists have any blame in what "Mars" has turned out to become.

Sadly, even the best artists in the industry can't make anything more out of crap other than... crap.

"Mocap, mo' problems."

Anonymous said...

> IMD had some major issues internally within the way it operated.

> the blinders were on for the upper-level management.

As posted on the alternate thread Mocap Factoids,
here is a peek inside:

Note the rectangular shapes on the poles lining the hallways. These swiveled about to position them just so, and were along just about every hallway in the facility. In the entrance foyer they were covered floor to ceiling in 11x17-inch image blowups printed on flexible sheet magnets. One of Scrooge's eyeballs filled a single rectangle.

Contrast this attention to detail with the lighting and rendering software. Many Disney Feature Animation folks were called in to help get the IMD films out the door. Ask one of them what they thought of the lighting and rendering process.

And then there were the daily catered lunches for the Executive levels and the upper Supes. It rolled in every day on carts through the front foyer in the tower in Hangar 7.

Ivory tower myopia.

k said...


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