Ron Howard isn’t exactly known for his documentary work. He’s helmed all of one notable doc so far – 2013’s Jay-Z doc “Made in America” (which was just recently released) but perhaps that’s enough. It was announced today the Academy Award winner (“A Beautiful Mind”) is set to helm an authorized Beatles documentary for Apple, based on the first part of band's early career – the touring years.
The doc will be made with the full consent and participation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison. White Horse’s Grammy Award-winning Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Howard’s long-time Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will co-produce with the filmmaker. Sinclair is the man with the pedigree here, he co-produced Martin Scorsese’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” and the seminal “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan”— the latter being one of the best music docs out there bare none (evidently Marty was busy for this one).
The press release follows below.
Howard said, “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." This film will focus on The Beatles’ journey from the early days of the Cavern Club in Liverpool and engagements in Hamburg to their last public concert in Candlestick Park, San Francisco, in 1966.
The Beatles began touring Europe in late 1963, after an extraordinary arrival on the British scene in 1961 and ‘62. However, it was their much-heralded Ed Sullivan appearance on February 9, 1964 that caused The Beatles’ popularity to explode. By June, the band 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.
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. This 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. Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde will act as executive producers for Apple Corps.
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, A Beautiful Mind – for which Howard won an Academy Award for Best Director and Grazer and Howard won Best Picture – and, most recently, Rush, and music-driven films like 8 Mile. This will be the second documentary for Howard -- the first being 2013’s Made in America.
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, Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, The Last Play At Shea, 1, and both the Academy Award-winning Undefeated and the Grammy Award-winning Foo Fighters: Back and Forth.
Pascucci, 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’.
This 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.
Acclaimed and award winning editor Paul Crowder will serve as editor. Crowder directed and edited the Grammy-nominated Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, The Last Play at Shea and the Formula One documentary, 1. Crowder’s long-time collaborator, Mark Monroe, will serve as writer. In addition to the aforementioned films, Monroe’s credits include Sound City, Chasing Ice, and the Academy Award-winning, The Cove. Marc Ambrose (Bhutto) will serve as supervising producer.
Nicholas Ferrall will be the executive in charge of production for White Horse Pictures, assisted by executives Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann. The Beatles documentary is one of the first projects under Nigel Sinclair’s new White Horse Pictures banner, which he founded in 2014 with long-time business partner Guy East.
Sinclair said, "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.”