Vivek J. Tiwary is writing and producing a feature adaptation of his upcoming graphic novel, “The Fifth Beatle,” which chronicles the life of the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, Tiwary’s publicist announced on Wednesday.
The film will deal with Epstein’s struggles with his sexuality and religion, while desperately trying to fit into the “Fab Four’s” world.
Epstein died ain 1967 of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 32. He also was manager for other popular British Invasion acts including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and Cilla Black.
Though no distributor is yet on board, Tiwary has signed a deal with Sony/ATV, which controls the Lennon/McCartney music catalog, and that gives him access to so-called publishing rights to Beatles songs for the film.
A spokesperson for Sony/ATV confirmed that a deal had been completed for the filmmaker for the publishing rights to the Beatles catalog, which means the filmmakers can remake the songs for the film. But it does not give the filmmaker the rights to use the original songs.
To use the so-called Master Recordings of Beatles songs, or the originals, EMI needs to clear the rights with The Beatles Estate.
While films like “Across the Universe” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” have featured other artists covering Beatles’ tunes, rarely have the band’s original versions been used on their soundtracks. One recent exeption is the film “The Social Network” which included a Beatles recording of “Baby You’re a Rich Man.”
Tiwary told TheWrap that the lengthy process of gaining access to a dozen Beatles classics for his project — “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Come Together,” “All You Need Is Love,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Yesterday” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” among them — came down to a combination of three elements in his favor. “I get the impression that it was a mixture of heart in the right place — ‘The Fifth Beatle’ was really a passion project for me — and also track record,” he said. “I do have a history of pulling off tricky projects. And I was persistent.”
Tiwary, who pointed to his work as a producer of both the Green Day Musical “American Idiot” and the 2008 Broadway run of “Raisin in the Sun” as part of his risk-taking record, said it took him about two and a half years to secure the “iron-clad rights” to the list of Beatles songs.
Though he couldn’t give details about any studios and producers circling the project at this stage, Tiwary hinted, “I will say that we are in discussions with some very exciting third-party elements.”
In the statement released Wednesday, he called Epstein’s story “not just an inspirational business story and a blueprint for what I wanted to accomplish with my career, but also a very human story.”
Due to be published in 2013, the novel is being written by Tiwary and drawn by Andrew Robinson, with contributions from Kyle Baker. Robinson and Tiwary will present the book at upcoming New York Comic-Con, later this month.
It will be published by M Press Books, a division of Dark Horse Comics.
Tiwary is represented by David Alpert and Lawrence Mattis at Circle of Confusion.