Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Has Disney sunk Yellow Submarine? Thoughts on Twenty Twelve.

Here’s an interesting rumour. The Hollywood Reporter is, erm, reporting that Walt Disney has backed out of plans to develop a remake of Yellow Submarine. The picture was to have been directed by Robert Zemeckis, the man behind Back to …

Tue, Mar 15, 2011, 21:21

   

Here’s an interesting rumour. The Hollywood Reporter is, erm, reporting that Walt Disney has backed out of plans to develop a remake of Yellow Submarine. The picture was to have been directed by Robert Zemeckis, the man behind Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, and was expected to feature David Tennant as a Blue Meanie. It never sounded like an altogether delicious idea. Zemeckis’s weird efforts at motion-capture animation — the horrible Polar Express, the creepy Beowulf, the useless A Christmas Carol — made money, but they appalled as many people as they delighted. Moreover, the original film could not be more rooted in its time. I mean really rooted.  It seemed very fresh when it was released in July 1968, but probably seemed a bit dated by September. Pop culture moved quickly in those spacey times.

Anyway, what makes this more intriguing is that the culling seems to have been inspired by the comparative failure of Disney’s Mars Needs Moms in the US. It’s quite hard to lose money on a family animation, but Moms, produced by Zemeckis, may have managed that unhappy achievement. The picture made just $6.9 million on its opening weekend. To put that in perspective, the largely useless Battle: Los Angeles clocked up a stonking $35 million in a similar number of screens.

Having said all this, I wouldn’t be so sure we’ve seen the back of Yellow Submarine. Robert Zemeckis is a very powerful man. He’s made a staggering amount of money over the years and any young exec who says no to him probably deserves a kick in the behind. We’ll see. But expect a denial of the rumour any minute now.

On an entirely unrelated issue, did anybody else watch the first episode of  Twenty Twelve on BBC4 yesterday? Following an imaginary group of hapless bureaucrats and PR wonks as they seek to organise the 2012 London Olympics, it might be the best new British comedy in five years. (I know it’s only the first episode. But I did say “might be”.) Jessica Hynes captured the essence of spare PR tool and the depiction of a pompous Young British Artist — finding every inquiry about his work, however reasonable, impossibly stupid — was so on the money I stood up and applauded within my empty flat.

You might argue that, adopting the same verite style as The Office and The Thick of It, it looked and felt a little overfamiliar. Remember, however, that John Morton, creator of the series, also wrote the brilliant and somewhat overlooked People Like Us, which perfected the form well over a decade ago. If you didn’t see it then check out an excellent episode, featuring (it’s that man again) a younger David Tennant, at the bottom of this post.

We will keep our eye on Twenty Twelve to see if it manages to build on its super opening.

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