Walt Disney Studios has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to filmmaker Peter Jackson’s previously announced Beatles documentary, “Get Back,” which creates a new film from the hundreds of hours of footage that spawned the group’s 1970 swan song “Let It Be.”
“The Beatles: Get Back” will be released by The Walt Disney Studios in the United States and Canada on Sept. 4, with additional details and dates for the film’s global release to follow. The announcement was made earlier today by the studio’s chairman Robert A. Iger at Disney’s annual meeting of shareholders.
“No band has had the kind of impact on the world that The Beatles have had, and ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is a front-row seat to the inner workings of these genius creators at a seminal moment in music history, with spectacularly restored footage that looks like it was shot yesterday,” says Iger of the announcement. “I’m a huge fan myself, so I could not be happier that Disney is able to share Peter Jackson’s stunning documentary with global audiences in September.”
The film creates a cheerful counter-narrative to the “Let It Be” film, which has a gloomy atmosphere and laid bare many of the internal disputes and arguments that ultimately broke up the Beatles and, unlike virtually every other item in the group’s oeuvre, has been out of circulation for many years — as if the surviving bandmembers didn’t want to deal with it.
Variety viewed a top-secret trailer of “Get Back” earlier this year, and it’s practically a different world: It’s brighter both visually and spiritually, with many, many shots of the Beatles joking around, making fun of each other, singing in silly accents and generally indulging in vintage Moptop hijinks. It also includes additional footage from the group’s legendary 42-minute “rooftop performance” that caps the “Let It Be” film, which was their last live performance.
Paul McCartney says in a statement, “I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about The Beatles recording together. The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”
Ringo Starr adds, “I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were.”
“The Beatles: Get Back,” presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd., is an exciting new collaboration between The Beatles, the most influential band of all time, and three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Compiled from over 55 hours of unseen footage, filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and 140 hours of mostly unheard audio recordings from the “Let It Be” album sessions, “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Jackson and produced by Jackson, Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde, with Ken Kamins and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones serving as executive producers.
The footage has been brilliantly restored by Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand, and is being edited by Jabez Olssen, who collaborated with Jackson on 2018’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the film which featured restored and colorized World War I archival footage. The music in the film will be mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios in London. With this pristine restoration behind it, “The Beatles: Get Back” will create a vivid, joyful and immersive experience for audiences.
Peter Jackson says, “Working on this project has been a joyous discovery. I’ve been privileged to be a fly on the wall while the greatest band of all time works, plays and creates masterpieces. I’m thrilled that Disney have stepped up as our distributor. There’s no one better to have our movie seen by the greatest number of people.”
According to the announcement, “The Beatles: Get Back” is being made “with the enthusiastic support of Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.”
Although the original “Let It Be” film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and the accompanying album were filmed and recorded in January 1969, they were not released until May 1970, three weeks after The Beatles had officially broken up. A fully restored version of the original “Let It Be” film will be made available at a later date.