Disney and Robert Zemeckis are looking to catch the wave of Beatlemania, floating a new 3-D “Yellow Submarine” for the bigscreen, with merchandising in tow and prospects for spinning off both a Broadway musical and a Cirque du Soleil stage production.
Disney hopes to have the film ready to premiere around the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The deal has been months in the making, with armies of Blue Meanies — er, lawyers — sorting out the complicated rights clearances necessary to remake the 1968 psychedelic toon.
Key to the deal is Zemeckis’ access to 16 classic Beatles tunes, ranging from the title song to “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “All You Need Is Love,” “When I’m 64,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Zemeckis plans to use the 3-D performance-capture format he utilized on the upcoming “A Christmas Carol,” in which Jim Carrey plays Scrooge as well as the ghosts that haunt him. His ImageMovers banner would produce.
Though the Beatles broke up in 1970, interest in their music has remained high, as reflected in such recent projects as Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe” pic and Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” production in Las Vegas. September will bring a flurry of remastered Beatles albums and the release of vidgame “The Beatles: Rock Band,” which incorporates some 45 of the band’s songs.
The storyline of the original “Yellow Submarine,” directed by George Dunning, was set in Pepperland, an undersea paradise protected by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When the band is captured by the music-hating Blue Meanies, a soldier is sent to Liverpool to fetch the Fab Four, who hop in the submarine and save the day.
The Beatles appeared only in the film’s closing live-action scene. Actors provided the voices for the animated incarnations of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.