The Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' Returning to Theaters for 50th Anniversary: Exclusive

Beatles Yellow Submarine
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The Beatles in 1968.

The Beatles will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine by bringing back the movie -- sporting a new 4K digital restoration and a 5.1 stereo surround sound remix -- to theaters across North America this July, Billboard has learned. Specific screening dates will be available here. The film is being screened through a deal with the Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd., Abramorama and Universal Music Group. A new trailer and film poster have been released for the film's return. The Beatles previously announced a similar 50th anniversary event in January for the U.K. and Ireland with the film playing on big screens there on July 8.

The 4K digital resolution was done by a team led by Paul Rutan Jr. at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. The songs and score were remixed in 5.1 at Abbey Road Studios by music mix engineer Peter Cobbin. According to Abramorama and UMG, the digital clean-up of the film was done by hand frame-by-frame without the use of any automated software.

The animated movie, which was written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal and directed by George Dunning, is based on the title song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and sung by Ringo Starr. The song, which came from the 1966 Revolver album, entered the U.S. singles charts on Aug. 20, 1966 and peaked at No. 2 during a nine-week run on the Billboard singles chart. The flip side, “Eleanor Rigby,” debuted on the charts the following week on Aug. 27 and peaked at No. 11, staying on the charts for eight weeks. It entered the U.K. charts Aug. 11, 1966, and topped the Record Retailer/Music Week charts during an 11-week run. It made a brief one-week return in 1986 only getting to No. 63.

The group released a Yellow Submarine soundtrack album for the movie that contained only six of the 15 Beatles songs in the film plus seven orchestral pieces written and orchestrated by their producer George Martin. It entered the Billboard charts on Feb. 8, 1969 and peaked at No. 2 during a 25-week run. The score for the film was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show in 1970, but it lost out to Burt Bacharach's music for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In 1999, the Beatles released Yellow Submarine Songtrack, an album which featured most of the songs used in the film newly remixed.

“We're thrilled to have the privilege of bringing Yellow Submarine back to the big screen so that three generations of happy Beatles fans can enjoy the ground-breaking animation and classic tunes that have long been part of our collective cultural DNA,” said Abramorama CEO Richard Abramowitz in announcing the film's return.

The film was celebrated upon its release by movie reviewers, including Roger Ebert, who called it “the most original and inventive feature-length animated cartoon since the days when Walt Disney was still thinking up innovations,” and New York magazine's Judith Crist, who wrote it was “sheer delight in its concept and execution.”

In 2009, interestingly enough, it was Disney who began talking up plans for a new 3D remake of the film to be directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back To the Future), but the project was killed in 2011. Zemeckis had previously produced an animated A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey released in 2009 that was thought to be an inspiration for the new version. The project got as far as casting the four Beatles, but budget issues were among the reasons that finally caused it to be scrapped.

Apple Corps Ltd. was founded by The Beatles in 1968. It has piloted many projects by the band over the years, including The Beatles' 1, The Beatles Anthology TV film, the release of the Beatles' remastered albums and the 2017 chart topping remixed and expanded anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It also partnered with Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures and Polygram Entertainment/UMG for the 2016 Grammy winning documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years and with Cirque Du Soleil for The Beatles' Love, which has played to almost nine million people in Las Vegas since its debut in June 2006.


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