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.

Sneak Peek – ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Movie

In the vacuum of the year-long delay surrounding Peter Jackson’s film The Beatles: Get Back, the director has given us something of a holiday treat by releasing this terrific sneak peek teaser:

The sound, colour and clarity are fantastic, as is the mood of joy depicted.

Now, Jackson is at pains to say that this is neither a trailer nor a completed sequence from the film, but rather something to give us a flavour of what to expect.

It’ll therefore be interesting to see how the finished product comes up, because anyone with enough footage (and Jackson has more than 56 hours of it!) can edit together just the fun moments and make it look like everything with the band was hunky dory. We know this was not the case and that they were getting on each other’s nerves for quite a lot of the time as well.

However, this teaser is such fun to watch. It’s great to see The Beatles clowning around and enjoying themselves. We just hope there’s not too much history being revised.

From the web: “Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson has released an exclusive sneak peek of his upcoming documentary The Beatles: Get Back for fans everywhere to enjoy. The 5-minute special look is available to fans worldwide on TheBeatles.com and streaming on Disney+.

Jackson said, “We wanted to give the fans of The Beatles all over the world a holiday treat, so we put together this five-minute sneak peek at our upcoming theatrical film The Beatles: Get Back. We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s faces and some much-needed joy at this difficult time.”

The feature-length film is set to open in theatres on August 27, 2021.

Can’t wait!

The Beatles, “Let It Be”, and Peter Jackson

Of course you’ll have heard by now that the multi-award winning film maker Peter Jackson has been selected by to re-cut the hours of Let It Be footage and audio from the winter of 1969 into an entirely new film.

We’ve been letting that huge news from last week sink in and percolate a bit – and have come to the conclusion that it’s a stroke of genius by the remaining Beatles and their Apple company.

We all know that the original Let It Be film has been languishing in the vaults for years, with seemingly no chance of unanimous agreement amongst the four-headed monster that controls these things (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison) that a re-issue – on its own – would ever get the green light.

But giving all the footage (over 55 hours of never-before-seen film and 140 hours of audio) to the Oscar-winning Jackson is something of a masterstroke.

First and foremost is the fact that Peter Jackson (who made the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies) is a mad keen Beatle fan, and has been for decades.

Secondly, his most recent project – the documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old – has seen he and his team at Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand, work wonders with the restoration and colorization of old photos and never-before-seen footage from World War I. The film was made to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.

If you want proof of what they can do with footage and images from one hundred years ago just take a look at the trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old. It is breathtaking:

The services at Park Road Post include: restoration from scanned film – scratch and splice fixes, de-noise, image sharpening, stabilizing, re-speeding and re-timing; grading – black and white and final colour grading of specialised colour created footage; and dialogue recording, Foley, and pre and final sound mixing and mastering. So they are very capable experts in their field.

As to the legend that The Beatles’ time together during the filming of Let It Be was entirely fraught and only shows a band in its final death throes, Jackson – who has seen all the footage – begs to differ: “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. 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.”

This all points to what should be something very special being produced.

As to fans who were worried that the new film would take the place of the original Let It Be, that it would forever consigned to the Apple dustbin, well that seems not to be the case. A restored version of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s theatrical release is set to finally get its belated digital release “following the release of this new film”, according to Apple’s official announcement.

And, it’s kind of ironic that The Beatles once tried to obtain the film rights to The Lord of the Rings…..