First, the bad news: Director Peter Jackson‘s previously delayed documentary, The Beatles: Get Back will not hit theaters this August as promised.
The good news is — it’s now been expanded into three two-hour specials to air this Thanksgiving via Disney+.
The Beatles: Get Back — is based around 55 hours of never-released footage of the Beatles rehearsing and recording at Twickenham Film Studios and Apple Studios, shot between January 2nd and January 31st, 1969. The new movie which was set to hit theaters last September — had been pushed back nearly a full calendar year, to August 27th, 2021.
The Beatles issued an official announcement detailing the change of plans, which reads in part:
Because of the wealth of tremendous footage Peter Jackson has reviewed, which he has spent the past three years restoring and editing, “The Beatles: Get Back” will be presented as three separate episodes. Each episode is approximately two hours in length, rolling out over three days, November 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2021, exclusively on Disney+.
Peter Jackson commented, “In many respects, (Let It Be director) Michael Lindsay-Hogg‘s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines. The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969. But it’s not nostalgia — it’s raw, honest, and human. Over six hours, you’ll get to know The Beatles with an intimacy that you never thought possible.”
Jackson added, “I’m very grateful to The Beatles, Apple Corps and Disney for allowing me to present this story in exactly the way it should be told. I’ve been immersed in this project for nearly three years, and I’m very excited that audiences around the world will finally be able to see it.”
Ringo Starr promised that unlike the original theatrical release, Peter Jackson’s new production — using entirely different footage than the 1970 film — will provide a more well-rounded look at the “Fab Four’s” state of the union during that period: “Y’know, when Michael Lindsey-Hogg put his film together, they just stuck to those seconds of argument, y’know? But there was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that. We sat ’round with his iPad for two hours and he was excited, I was excited, and he was showin’ me bits. ‘Cause he felt, similar to me, that the other version was a bit down. There was no need for it to be down. Michael Lindsey-Hogg took one point of view, little moments and built the whole thing around that. This one, I think, will be more expressive, and more like we were.”
In the spring of 1970, shortly before the release of the Let It Be album and film, George Harrison shed light on what fans could expect from the project: “The Beatles film is just pure documentary of us working on the album. It was very informative. It’s not really nice for me; I can’t stand seein’ it — but for other people, who don’t know what we’re really about, who like to go in and see our warts, then it’s very good.”
Not long before his 2016 death, Beatles producer George Martin recalled John Lennon being adamant against any bells and whistles to the Let It Be songs: “During the Let It Be stuff, John came to me and said, ‘We don’t want your crap on this record.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘We don’t want all this production crap where you overdub voices and you edit and you manipulate (sound).’ I said, ‘Okay. . . Whaddya wanna do?‘ (He said) ‘We’re gonna make (an) honest record of this. We’re gonna perform and you record us. Let It Be became torture, because John’s premise was to take a song, rehearse it, get it right, and record it. But they never got it right.”