The Beatles animated series?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Sam Favate, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    Sam Favate
    Any word on the Beatles animated series coming to DVD? I know I've read rumors in the last year or so, but yesterday I saw where McFarlane Toys is issuing action figures of the Beatles based on the 1965 animated show, and I was wondering if this was a tie-in to a DVD release. Any info? Thoughts?

    The figures are due for release in December.
     
  2. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    I'd like this too. They've recently started licensing the likenesses of the cartoon characters--for the figures, for salt and pepper shakers, and for tin totes. Perhaps it's a sign that the DVDs are coming.
     
  3. Eugene Esterly

    Eugene Esterly Supporting Actor

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    I would also love to own The Beatles cartoon on DVD since I am a cartoon fan & also a fan of The Beatles.
     
  4. Chris:L

    Chris:L Supporting Actor

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    I've never heard of this show... tell me a little bit about it.
     
  5. JasonPW

    JasonPW Stunt Coordinator

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    The Beatles cartoon was a Saturday morning series on ABC produced by King Features Productions, the people behind made-for-TV Popeye cartoons of that same era. Check Amazon for a book called "Beatletoons" that tells the quite interesting story of how the fabs became Saturday morning icons.

    Obviously, "The Beatles" was designed to capitalize on the tremendous popularity of the then-new-to-America Fab Four. Each episode was comprised of short limited animation adventures, each of which included a Beatles song. Also included were "sing-a-longs," which were mostly cheap time filler--a Beatles song would play to recycled animation (or even simple still frame artwork) and printed on-screen lyrics.

    The Beatles' singing voices (from their master song recordings) were heard on the series, but the speaking voices for the fabs were provided by cartoon voice guys, included the ubiquitous Paul Frees.

    I attended Beatlefest 2000 in Chicago, and there was a very well-attended special screening of Beatles cartoons at that event. I think many American Beatle fans are quite fond of these animated shows, not because they're all that good, but because they're a fascinating (and nostalgia-inducing) relic of the days when the likenesses of John Paul George and Ringo were marketed on every product in America except toilet paper.

    Doc
     
  6. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

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    Considering that Beatles music is the most expensive thing anyone could license, the only way you might see a set like this would be with a list price of $1000.
     
  7. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    Apple owns the rights to the toons and they partially own the songs too.
     
  8. Chris:L

    Chris:L Supporting Actor

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    Michael Jackson owns the Beatles Catalog. And since he's involved in a molestation suit, I don't think it's a good time to release this set. Maybe he should GIVE it to Paul McCartney. When they auctioned off the rights, Michael promised Paul he wouldn't buy the Catalog. then he turned around and stole it right out from under him.
     
  9. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    He doesn't own ALL of the catalog. In fact, he gave up a lot of his share because of his various lawsuits.

    Besides, it's never a bad time to release a Beatles product [​IMG]
     
  10. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Michael Jackson needs money. Licensing out some songs would be a good way to raise some.
     
  11. RoyWilbury

    RoyWilbury Stunt Coordinator

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    I’ve been reading the board for awhile now but this is my first post.

    I’m a fan of the Beatles animated TV series, and have studied its possible release. (I also have the “Beatletoons” book mentioned previously, which is a great resource in studying the series.)

    While there have been a few recent signs that a release is slightly more possible, I would say in general that a release is still not very likely.

    The Beatles’ Apple Corps company bought the rights to the animated series in the early 1990’s. The main reason that has been bandied about for Apple buying up the series is actually to pull them off the market so to speak, to keep them from airing (which the cartoons did into the 70’s in syndication and in the 80’s on cable outlets such as MTV, Disney Channel, etc.).

    While the Beatles occasionally referenced the series over the years, even occasionally in a positive light, it is understood that for the most part that they were and are rather lukewarm toward the series. Some say they “hated” the series. The voices were “Americanized” by the voice actors, and the animation was apparently mediocre even by mid 60’s standards (I say apparently only because I’m not an expert on TV animation history. I have the complete run of the series myself, and the animation is rather crude, certainly by today’s standards or even 80’s or 90’s standards).

    The series isn’t even addressed in their 10-hour “Beatles Anthology” documentary.

    So here are some reasons a release of the series is not very likely:

    - The afore-mentioned attitude of the Beatles toward the series, which in the end is probably what keeps the cartoons from being released more than anything else. The series never even aired in the UK during its original run in the US. It was finally aired in the UK at some later point.

    - Even if they were not against the release of the series, they have so many other Beatles-related projects in the pipeline that the cartoons would have to wait for other projects to be released first. The Beatles make a big thing out of not doing too many releases at the same time. With numerous other projects that are in the works (which have been delayed numerous times themselves), the cartoons would likely take awhile to release even if there were a plan to release them.

    - There is a whole “politically correct” issue with some of the cartoons. Some of the cartoons are themed such as visits to Japan or other locales. There are definitely some racial and/or cultural stereotypes found in some of the episodes. This makes me think that even if the Beatles ever release some of the cartoons on DVD, it will likely not be in complete season sets. It would be more of a “Best of” collection. I would guess other cartoons in the 60’s had similar stereotypes. But I think we all know how those issues can hinder releasing material, whether the apprehension on the part of the owner of the material is warranted or not.

    - Some people that work at Apple either aren’t aware of what product would sell, or they don’t care. You’d be amazed the number of simple products that are essential for Beatles fans and would sell well that Apple has passed on doing. I won’t go into the long list because I should stick to the topic of TV on DVD, but Beatles fans know of a number of projects that Apple has dragged their feet on.

    - Even among sort of “hardcore” Beatles fans, there are very mixed feelings about the series. While I doubt any fans would actively oppose releasing the series, some fans are rather lukewarm or indifferent to the series. Many fans would rather see more previously unreleased music released, or other archival releases of previously unreleased films or other video presentations of the real Beatles. I’m a huge proponent of releasing the entire series. I really enjoy the cartoons. But even I would place a number of other Beatles releases as a higher priority than the cartoons.

    There are also some points that indicate a release could conceivably take place (although I should say that these “pros” do not really weigh as heavily on the situation as the above-mentioned “cons”):

    - Releasing the cartoons as a sort of marketing spin off of the popular “Yellow Submarine” animated movie (which of course was actually to some degree a spin-off of the animated TV series in actuality) might work.

    - Apple Corps has indeed been using the images of the TV cartoon Beatles on more merchandise lately. This year has seen them launch a number of items (shirts, salt and pepper shakers, cookie jar, mug, tin tote, picture frame) with the images of the cartoon Beatles. However, this is not the first use of those images on merchandise even in recent years. I recall some Beatles fans citing the same thing occuring a few years ago around 1999 or so and trying to point to that as an indication of a release of the cartoons. While I would like to believe the marketing of this cartoon merchandise indicates a stronger possibility of releasing the cartoons, I think for the most part that using the images for merchandise is simply just another way to create more Beatles merchandise. I do think, though, that if more people see this merchandise, and especially the McFarlane figures, that may lead to fans seeing and/or buying this stuff and then starting to ask Apple why they haven’t released the cartoons. A huge amount of people watched this cartoon series in the 60’s. When it premiered in the days of only having a few channels on the dial, it was getting between a 50 and a 60 share in the ratings! As others have mentioned about old short-lived TV shows, even a poorly-rated short-lived TV show from the 60’s was probably watched by more people than most TV shows on the air now because of the few choices on the dial back then.

    - Simply put, the cartoons would sell. The music alone and the name “The Beatles” would sell them. This was the whole premise behind the original idea of doing the series in the 60’s. The animation and writing was mediocre, but the name and the music sold people on watching it. The same is true for selling DVD’s of the show now. The problem is that there a huge number of obvious products that would sell that Apple has not released. This goes back to one of the “cons” listed above.

    - The Beatles and Apple seem to be a bit more easy going when it comes to releasing product. The number of “new” Beatles products on CD and DVD in the last ten years from 1994-2004 easily outnumbers that amount of “new” product released from 1970 to 1994.

    I could go on and on with more pros and cons. On the plus side, there are no other companies or networks or anybody that could hang up a release of the cartoons. The Beatles’ Apple Corps owns the series.

    Contrary to what others have said, clearing the music would not be a problem either. The Beatles have released numerous projects on CD and DVD using their own music, and it has never, ever been an issue. Michael Jackson is co-owner of the publishing with Sony. (Jackson was in major debt in the 90’s and put up half ownership of the catalog to Sony as collateral).
    The cost of clearing the songs would not be an issue for Apple at all. Sony/ATV (the company who owns the publishing rights) has NEVER hindered the Beatles or any solo member, etc., of making use of the songs they wrote. In actuality, once the Beatles didn’t hold any publishing rights and Jackson owned the rights, the use of Beatles songs in commercials, etc. only increased.

    As for the actual sound recordings, EMI Records owns those. Jackson doesn’t have anything to do with the copyrights to the actual sound recordings. And of course EMI has also never hindered any official Beatles-sanctioned release of original Beatles recordings. The only thing EMI have ever done is usually force those TV commercials using Beatles songs to not use the original Beatles recordings because it’s too expensive.

    The only hangup is simply a matter of whether Apple wants to release the series or not. I think the Beatles in recent years and today (meaning the surviving Beatles and their estates/families) no longer have any hostility toward this TV series. I just think they don’t think about it much and it really isn’t a high priority to spend time addressing. If somebody working at Apple really pushes for a release or by some fluke McCartney or Ringo Starr become interested in it, it might happen. Otherwise, I don’t think this is happening any time soon unfortunately.

    I think a release of the cartoons on DVD is slightly more likely now than it was any number of years ago. But it still isn’t very likely. I hope that I’m proved wrong on this. Stranger things have happened.
     

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