Apple Corps Ltd and WingNut Films Ltd have announced a new film based on 55 hours of never-released footage of The Beatles in the studio in early 1969.
The new, as-yet untitled collaboration with Academy Award-winning director Sir Peter Jackson is currently in production, with the release date to be announced in due course. The film is being made with the full cooperation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
The 55 hours of footage feature The Beatles in the studio between 2 January and 31 January 1969, during the sessions that produced the group’s Grammy-winning Let It Be album, released in May 1970. The filming was intended at the time to be used for a planned television special, but instead went on to capture The Beatles’ historic live performance on the roof of Apple’s London office in Savile Row. The announcement of the new film comes on the 50th anniversary of that unforgettable event of 30 January 1969.
Says Peter Jackson: “The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about — it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”
The footage is the only material of note that documents The Beatles at work in the studio. Viewed in a new light, it reveals a group working together to a remarkable standard of creativity, as opposed to the band tensions of the time with which the Let It Be album and movie are often associated.
“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” says Jackson. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama — but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.
“Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating — it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage — making the movie will be a sheer joy.”
Jackson will be working on the project with producer Clare Olssen and editor Jabez Olssen, his partners on the hugely acclaimed World War I documentary produced for the war’s centenary last year, They Shall Not Grow Old. The Beatles’ footage will be restored to a pristine standard by Park Road Post of Wellington, New Zealand, using techniques developed for They Shall Not Grow Old, which has been nominated for a BAFTA Award for best documentary. The executive producers of the new film are Ken Kamins for WingNut Films and Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde for Apple Corps.
Following the release of the film, a restored version of the original Let It Be movie, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, will also be made available.
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