Perhaps, someday, Robert Zemeckis will be thankful that Mars Needs Moms became one of the biggest flops in Hollywood history. The kids' film, which grossed an anemic $6.9 million dollars this past weekend on a $150 million dollar budget, is the latest (and last) motion capture animation failure to be bankrolled by Disney and produced by Zemeckis's ImageMovers studio. On Tuesday, Disney announced it's killing his ill-conceived 3D animated adaptation of The Beatles Yellow Submarine, possibly signalling the end of the Zemeckis motion capture mini-era.
To recap: Ever since 2004 when Zemeckis made his first foray into motion-capture animation with The Polar Express, he's been binging on the technology. He reeled off a bizarre rendition of Beowulf and a forgettable version of The Christmas Carol, and produced lesser motion capture titles like Monster House and the previously mentioned Mars Needs Moms.
Even though every one of those films largely avoided a critical drubbing, audiences were never really receptive to his approach to the technology (unlike James Cameron with Avatar). Because of the massive production budgets of the titles (Polar Express and Christmas Carol cost $165 million and $200 million respectively), each of his projects barely broke even at the box office. If it wasn't for Mars bombing, however, the once-bulletproof director may have been able to churn out these break even titles in perpetuity.
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Now, however, Disney has pulled the plug on a potential $150 million+ Yellow Submarine 3D musical and shuttered his studio. According to The Hollywood Reporter, as Mars premiered "Zemeckis left town over the weekend, flying to Montana to regroup." He's reportedly going to be making his live-action return soon--his return to form? Maybe.
As the Reporter notes, he might just be trying to find "a new home" for Submarine.