Just Announced. The Beatles: Get Back Documentary

Apple, Walt Disney Studios and Wingnut Films have just gone public on their plans for the release of the Peter Jackson-directed film, The Beatles: Get Back.

What many thought would be something like a 2-hour cinema release has morphed into something much, much bigger. It is to be a three-part documentary series, screened over three days on the Disney+ channel. Each episode is around two hours in duration.

Journalist Joe Hagan has been given an exclusive preview and his article about what he saw is in the magazine Vanity Fair. He describes it as “a mindblower”.

THE BEATLES: GET BACK. COURTESY OF APPLE CORPS LTD

Here’s the official press release (from thebeatles.com):

Over Six Hours of Never-Before-Seen Restored Footage, Including The Beatles’ Last Live Performance, to Roll Out on Disney+ Over Three Days, November 25, 26 and 27, 2021

BURBANK, Calif. (June 17, 2021) – The Walt Disney Studios, Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd. announced today that Disney+ will bring “The Beatles: Get Back,” a Disney+ Original documentary series directed by Peter Jackson, to fans and music lovers worldwide.

Because of the wealth of tremendous footage Peter Jackson has reviewed, which he has spent the past three years restoring and editing, “The Beatles: Get Back” will be presented as three separate episodes. Each episode is approximately two hours in length, rolling out over three days, November 25, 26 and 27, 2021, exclusively on Disney+.

“As a huge Beatles fan myself, I am absolutely thrilled that Disney+ will be the home for this extraordinary documentary series by the legendary filmmaker Peter Jackson,” said Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, The Walt Disney Company. “This phenomenal collection of never-before-seen footage offers an unprecedented look at the close camaraderie, genius songwriting, and indelible impact of one of the most iconic and culturally influential bands of all time, and we can’t wait to share ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ with fans around the world.” 

Peter Jackson commented, “In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines. The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969. But it’s not nostalgia – it’s raw, honest, and human. Over six hours, you’ll get to know The Beatles with an intimacy that you never thought possible.”

He added, “I’m very grateful to The Beatles, Apple Corps and Disney for allowing me to present this story in exactly the way it should be told. I’ve been immersed in this project for nearly three years, and I’m very excited that audiences around the world will finally be able to see it.”

Directed by three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “They Shall Not Grow Old”), “The Beatles: Get Back” takes audiences back in time to the band’s intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. The documentary showcases the warmth, camaraderie and creative genius that defined the legacy of the iconic foursome, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been brilliantly restored. Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives. “The Beatles: Get Back” is the story of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they plan their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The documentary features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.

An exciting new collaboration between The Beatles and Jackson presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd., “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Peter Jackson, produced by Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde (“Eight Days a Week”), with Ken Kamins (“The Hobbit” trilogy) and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones (“Eight Days a Week”) serving as executive producers. Jabez Olssen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) serves as the documentary’s editor, and the music is mixed by Giles Martin (“Rocketman”) and Sam Okell (“Yesterday”).

“The Beatles: Get Back” is being made with the enthusiastic support of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

Ahead of the documentary’s Disney+ debut, Apple Corps Ltd./Callaway Arts & Entertainment will release The Beatles: Get Back book on October 12. Beautifully designed and produced, the 240-page hardcover complements the “Get Back” documentary with transcriptions of The Beatles’ recorded conversations and hundreds of exclusive, never before published photos from the three weeks of sessions. The collectible book will be published in nine international language editions, including English. (ends)

No news yet about a physical release of the 6-hour plus documentary for fans, nor of any Super Deluxe box set of the music. Watch this space.

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‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’ is Coming to Hulu

Paul McCartney has just posted this on Instagram:

Seems the McCartney and Rick Rubin documentary series examining the former Beatles’ musical history has landed at Hulu.

It’ll be a fascinating six-part series that will launch on the streamer on July 16. News that two were working together on a documentary series first broke in December last year.

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.”

For more detailed information see Deadline (which broke the original story), New Musical Express, or Rolling Stone.

McCartney and Rick Rubin

Now this actually looks interesting.

Paul McCartney can be difficult to interview and get new and deeper insights from. He’s been interviewed and the subject of so many on-screen studies of his craft that he almost automatically falls back on a tried-and-true set of reactions and answers – and we (the audience) end up learning nothing new.

But chuck in a personality like veteran producer Rick Rubin – in what looks to be an in-depth, six-part examination of some of the greatest songs that McCartney has ever been involved with – and we might just have a classic on our hands.

McCartney has just teased on his website and YouTube channel “Paul McCartney x Rick Rubin. A Forthcoming Documentary Event. Coming Soon”

And it looks good:

The pairing of the two has been known about for some time, but there are scant other details as yet – not even where or when it will be shown. Rumour is it’ll be either Netflix or Apple TV+. Hence the interest in this 1’36 clip.

Deadline says the project is still untitled but it’s a six-parter, and that it marks “….the first time ever that the original masters have left Abbey Road”.

That claim is a little questionable as in 1982 the original master tapes of all 14 Beatle studio stereo albums left the EMI vaults at the Abbey Road Studios and were couriered to the Mobile Fidelity offices in California to produce this box set:

Suffice it to say, if that’s what’s happened again for this new doco, the original master tapes leaving the building nowadays is a very, VERY rare thing. A more likely scenario is that they’re using a digital copy.

Either way, it certainly looks from the footage released that Rubin and McCartney are listening to original recordings, isolating various tracks on the mixing desk, and discussing in detail the making of classics like ‘Lovely Rita’, ‘Come Together’ and ‘Live and Let Die’. This will be fascinating because the legendary producer knows his stuff and will hopefully push for detail and stories that haven’t ever been told before. Fingers crossed.

‘Above Us Only Sky’ Set For Home Release

Last year when the John Lennon Estate re-issued the extensive, multi-disc and book Ultimate Collection of his Imagine album we thought we had it all. Multiple CD’s, Blu-ray’s and LP’s of audio alongside a coffee table style book, and the re-release of the two original  documentaries, Imagine and Gimme Some Truth on DVD and Blu-ray.

But at the time that massive re-issue program was unfolding there was a third, new documentary also doing the rounds – on subscription TV and eventually on free-to-air TV in various countries around the world.

The doco was called Above Us Only Sky and while it features a lot of footage from the two previous documentaries, these were supplemented and inter-cut with never-before-seen footage of John and Yoko, new interviews and archive material. It was made with the full cooperation from and exclusive access to Yoko Ono and the Lennon Estate.

Now Above Us Only Sky is coming to a store near you. On September 13 it will be issued on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download.The Universal Music and Eagle Rock Entertainment press release says:

“The feature-length film, directed by the Emmy Award-winning Oscar nominee Michael Epstein, tells the untold story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s unique and enduring relationship and the creation of the 1971 album Imagine….Unseen film of the time is complemented by archive and brand new interviews, including an exclusive new conversation with Yoko.

Others featured in new interviews in the film include John’s son Julian Lennon and photographer David Bailey, who took the 1971 image of John and Yoko that was on the cover of Vogue. Also contributing their memories are gallerist John Dunbar, the man who set up Ono’s first art show in London in 1966 and introduced the couple there; her neighbour and later personal assistant Dan Richter; and studio design pioneer Eddie Veale, who build Ascot Sound Studios at the couple’s home in Tittenhurst Park in Berkshire.

Lennon’s musical collaborators Klaus Voorman, Alan White and Jim Keltner, all of whom played on Imagine, are also featured in new interviews. They add to a vivid insight into the making of the album, alongside the newly-seen film footage, audio and rare images.”