Ron Howard is set to direct a new authorized documentary about The Beatles and the iconic band’s touring years, it was announced Wednesday by Apple Corps, White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.
The film will be produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Imagine’s Brian Grazer will produce with Howard, while Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East will serve as executive producers along with Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde of Apple Corps.
“I am excited and honored to be working with Apple and the White Horse team on this astounding story of these four young men who stormed the world in 1964. Their impact on popular culture and the human experience cannot be exaggerated,” said Howard, who just directed the Jay-Z documentary “Made in America.”
The Beatles movie will focus on the band’s journey from the early days of the Cavern Club in Liverpool and engagements in Hamburg to their last public concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966.
The Beatles began touring Europe in late 1963, after an extraordinary arrival on the British scene in ’61 and ’62. However, it was their much-heralded “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance on Feb. 9, 1964 that caused the band’s popularity to explode. By June, The Beatles had commenced their first world tour, and continued on a relentless schedule for two subsequent years. By the time the band stopped touring in August of 1966, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities around the world. The cultural phenomenon their touring helped create, known as “Beatlemania,” was something the world had never seen before and laid the foundation for the globalization of culture.
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Beatlemania was not just a phenomenon. It was the catalyst for a cultural shift that would alter the way people around the world viewed and consumed popular culture. Howard’s film will seek to explain what it was about that particular moment in time that allowed this cultural pivot point to occur. It will examine the social and political context of the time, and reveal the unique conditions that caused technology and mass communication to collide. The film will also explore the incomparable electricity between performer and audience that turned the music into a movement – a common experience into something sublime.
Founded in London in 1968, Apple Corps Ltd. represents The Beatles. Under the direction of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, the company administers The Beatles’ business interests, and it also develops new creative projects, making a significant contribution to the staging and safekeeping of The Beatles’ musical and cultural legacies.
Over the course of a near 30-year partnership, Howard and Grazer have produced a long list of successful and critically acclaimed films, including “Apollo 13,” “Frost/Nixon” and “A Beautiful Mind,” for which Howard and Grazer won Oscars for directing and producing.
Sinclair’s long association with documentaries has resulted in a string of award-winning films including Martin Scorsese‘s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” which won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA, and “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” for which Sinclair won a Grammy Award. He has also been involved with documentaries about The Who and Foo Fighters.
Pascucci, the managing director of Concord Music Group and former head of Warner’s Rhino Entertainment, was an executive producer on “George Harrison,” and has recently been associated with Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival: 2013 and “Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’.”
The Beatles project was originally brought to Apple Corps by One Voice One World, which has conducted extensive research around the globe, including inviting Beatles fans to send in clips of home movies and photos that they acquired during this extraordinary period. OVOW’s Matthew White, Stuart Samuels, and Bruce Higham will form part of the production team as co-producers, while Marc Ambrose (“Bhutto”) will serve as supervising producer.
Mark Monroe (“The Cove”) will write the documentary, while his longtime collaborator Paul Crowder will serve as editor.
The Beatles documentary is one of the first projects under Sinclair’s new White Horse Pictures banner, which he founded in 2014 with long-time business partner East. Nicholas Ferrall will be the executive in charge of production for White Horse, assisted by executives Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann.
“The way The Beatles burst onto the scene in Britain was an overwhelming social, cultural and musical phenomenon, but was even then eclipsed by that extraordinary explosion on the American scene and then the world. I was lucky enough to see The Beatles perform in Glasgow in 1964, shortly after their “Ed Sullivan” appearance. It is an honor to work on this project for The Beatles, and to be collaborating again with the extraordinary Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and my good friend Scott Pascucci,” said Sinclair.