Disney has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to Peter Jackson’s documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” and will release the film in theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 4, 2020, Bob Iger announced Wednesday during the Disney shareholders meeting.
The film was previously announced and features never-before-seen footage from The Beatles’ recording sessions during their album “Let It Be,” including the band’s final live concert as a group, their iconic rooftop performance on London’s Savile Row.
Additional details for the film’s global release will follow.
“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,” Iger said 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.”
Jackson worked with Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand, which previously worked with Jackson on the restoration and colorization for his WWI film “They Shall Not Grow Old.” Together they restored the 50-year-old footage as compiled from over 55 hours of unseen material from Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1969 documentary film “Let It Be,” as well as 140 hours of mostly unheard audio recordings from the sessions.
But in addition to “The Beatles: Get Back,” Disney and Jackson will also release a restored version of the film “Let It Be,” which won an Oscar for the title song in 1969 but has been widely unavailable to the public in a digital form for years.
The original film was recorded in January 1969 but was not released until May 1970, three weeks after The Beatles had officially broken up. The film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, and the 80-minute “Let It Be” movie was built around the three weeks of filming, including an edited version of the rooftop concert.
The new documentary brings to light much more of the band’s intimate recording sessions for “Let It Be” and their entire 42-minute performance on the rooftop of Apple’s Savile Row London office. While there is no shortage of material of The Beatles’ extensive touring earlier in their careers, including Ron Howard’s recent Beatles documentary “Eight Days a Week,” “The Beatles: Get Back” features the only notable footage of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr actually at work in the studio, especially at a time late in their run as the band when they were not always at their most agreeable.
Shot on Jan. 30, 1969, The Beatles’ surprise rooftop concert marked the band’s first live performance in over two years and their final live set together. The footage captures interactions between the band members, reactions from fans and employees from nearby businesses, and comical attempts to stop the concert by two young London policemen responding to noise complaints.
A fully restored version of the original “Let It Be” film will be made available at a later date.
“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 Beatles: Get Back” is presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd. The music in the film will be mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios in London.
“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,” Jackson said 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,” Paul McCartney said in a statement.
“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,” Ringo Starr said in a statement.
“The Beatles: Get Back” is also being made with the enthusiastic support of Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.