Paul McCartney Wanted ‘Yellow Submarine’ Movie to Be More Like Disney Classics

Yellow Submarine is an animated adventure featuring The Beatles. It’s a unique animated film that captures the band’s colorful and psychedelic imagery with distinct hand-drawn animation. It’s fondly remembered today by many, but Paul McCartney wanted Yellow Submarine to be more similar to Disney classics. 

The Beatles were against making ‘Yellow Submarine’

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison | Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns)

Yellow Submarine is a 1968 animated musical featuring The Beatles and their music. The plot centers around The Beatles saving the citizens of Pepperland from the Blue Meanies, who drain the town of color and joy. The film was produced by King Features Syndicate, which had worked on the Saturday morning ABC animated series The Beatles. 

According to, The Beatles were against making Yellow Submarine as the group was not fans of the animated series. 

“The Beatles were against the idea from the beginning,” music producer George Martin said. “The Beatles clearly thought it was going to be yet another rip-off (like the television series) and wanted nothing to do with it. They loathed the idea of the cartoon characters because they had visions of (Brodax’s) Popeye or this kind of quite crude animation.”

However, The Beatles wanted to fulfill their contractual obligation and eventually agreed because they had little to do with the movie. When the movie debuted, The Beatles enjoyed it but were not fans of the people doing their voices. 

Paul McCartney wanted ‘Yellow Submarine’ to be more like Disney

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In 1999, Paul McCartney shared his thoughts on Yellow Submarine over 30 years later. McCartney said he didn’t dislike the movie, but he wanted it to be more like a classic Disney cartoon. He said it lacked the “warmth” and “overall magic” traditionally associated with Disney. 

“You have to remember it wasn’t our film anyway,” McCartney stated. “I wanted Yellow Submarine to be more of a classic cartoon. I love the Disney films, so I thought this could have been the greatest cartoon ever – only with our music. They didn’t want that, though, and luckily it wasn’t my decision. They felt they ought to pick up on where we had been up to, which was Sgt. Pepper, but a Bambi would have been better for me at the time.”

“At the start, all four of us hoped for something more classic like Pinocchio or Snow White,” McCartney added. “I felt it lacked the ingenuity and the warmth and overall magic you associate with Disney. The end result was that the Yellow Submarine just didn’t draw me into it. Basically, I thought it was a lot of very clever sequences but nothing more.”

Ringo Starr and George Harrison have more positive feelings toward the movie

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Regardless of The Beatles’ thoughts, Yellow Submarine is considered a historically relevant animated movie, and it performed well at the box office. George Harrison and Ringo Starr shared their thoughts on Yellow Submarine, and their opinions were more positive than McCartney’s. 

“I loved Yellow Submarine. I thought it was very innovative,” Starr said. “The thing with the film that still blows me away is that in the first year it was out, I had all these kids coming up to me saying, ‘Why did you press the button?’ In the film, I press a button and get shot out of the submarine, and kids from all over the bloody world kept shouting, ‘Why did you press the button?’ at me as if it was real. They actually thought it was me.”

Harrison said he believes it’s a movie that can be enjoyed by kids from every generation and by people who enjoy listening to The Beatles’ music. 

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