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The Beatles in London 1963: Four films from four perspectives



Oscar winner Sam Mendes, 58, wants to honor the history of the Beatles with four feature films. Sony Pictures Entertainment and the British director's production company, Neal Street Productions, announced the project on Tuesday. Paul McCartney, 81, Ringo Starr, 83, and the families of the late band members John Lennon and George Harrison granted the filming rights, according to the statement. The cinema release is planned for 2027.

Mendes (“American Beauty,” “1917”), who directed the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” among others, wants to tell the different films from the perspective of one of the four musicians. Co-director Pippa Harris spoke of a “uniquely exciting and epic film experience”. It is “four films, told from four different perspectives, telling a single story about the most famous band of all time.”

It is the first project of its kind to which the production company Apple Corps Ltd., the two surviving Beatles and the descendants of the other two have granted full rights to the life story and music, the studio said on Tuesday. “I feel honored,” Mendes wrote.

The Beatles are considered the most successful band in music history. The four musicians from the English port city of Liverpool recorded countless hits that are still world-famous today. In 1970 the band broke up. At the time, they starred in successful films such as "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) and "Help!" (1965) by Richard Lester, which documented Beatlemania. Their music inspired the animated film “Yellow Submarine” from 1968. Most recently, in 2021, the documentary “Get Back” by Peter Jackson about album recordings and the Beatles’ last live performance together caused a sensation.

“Before anyone makes another Beatles film, there should be a documentary series about all those who were once referred to as the ‘fifth Beatle,’” suggested music journalist Jessica Hopper on X (formerly Twitter). She herself names John Lennon's wife Yoko Ono, the early promoter Lord Woodbine, keyboardist Billy Preston, and the producer of the posthumously released recordings, Jefff Lynne. A Wikipedia article on the “fifth Beatle” also mentions producer George Martin, manager Brian Epstein and temporary band members Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe.

There was already a biopic about Sutcliffe in 1994, “Backbeat,” which was largely set in Hamburg. "Nowhere Boy" from 2009 looked back on John Lennon's teenage years with lead actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. A 1979 biopic called "Birth of the Beatles" produced by the US company Dick Clark Productions was received largely negatively at the time. For rights reasons, the Beatles songs on the soundtrack were recorded by a Beatles cover band.

In the last decade, biopics about big pop stars have become big business. “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Queen’s Freddie Mercury, “Rocketman” about Elton John and Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” were box office successes. Hollywood studios have been looking for more biopic fodder ever since. “Bob Marley: One Love” can currently be seen in cinemas. A feature film about Michael Jackson is already in the works.

“Cinema events today must trigger a cultural earthquake,” says Tom Rothman, head of the film division of Sony Pictures. He is convinced that the Beatles project can achieve this. Sony is said to be working on an innovative release strategy; Details would only be announced later.