When The New Beatles Documentary From Peter Jackson Will Hit US Theaters

If you’re a fan of The Beatles, you got some great news early in 2019. That was when Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson announced he was taking the excess footage from the Let It Be (1970) shoot and crafting a new Fab Four documentary.

According to a statement from the band and Jackson, over 50 hours of film and 140 hours of audio hadn’t been used for the original project. That meant an entirely new film could come into being featuring the band near its creative peak.

In a word, it represented a holy grail of Beatles material. However, given the scale of the project (and Jackson’s busy schedule), no one could say when he’d complete the picture. But the status changed when Disney picked up distribution rights to the film. It will hit screens in late summer 2020.

The documentary uses the original name for the ‘Let It Be’ sessions

The ‘Let It Be’ poster | LMPC via Getty Images

After the sonic experiments of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and the solo-act approach The Beatles took on The White Album (1968), the group (led by Paul McCartney) pushed for a more back-to-basics approach for the project it began in January 1969.

According to the original plan, the Fab Four would record a new album without overdubbing orchestral parts and other effects. They would focus on playing live (and thus together) instead. And they would play a live show for the first time since the band stopped touring in the summer of ’66.

Meanwhile, they decided to have a film crew record the project while they rehearsed. Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who’d shot several Beatles videos and the Rolling Stones’ long-unreleased Rock and Roll Circus in late ’68, got the gig.

From the picture most got from the footage Lindsay-Hogg used for Let It Be, the dream fell apart during the sessions for Get Back — the album’s working title. (George Harrison, for example, quit The Beatles during the shoot.) But that was only part of the story. Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back will tell another side.

‘The Beatles: Get Back’ hits theaters September 4, 2020

The Beatles perform on the roof of the Apple building for director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary, ‘Let It Be,’ 30 January 1969. | Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the Let It Be documentary, we got a picture of a band dissolving. One famous scene, in which George looks like he’s entirely finished dealing with Paul on any level, sets the tone of the film. However, they did appear to enjoy rocking out on the roof of the Apple building at the end.

According to Jackson (and Paul, and Ringo), there was much more where that came from in the unused Let It Be footage. The Beatles: Get Back, which Disney, Jackson, and the band’s surviving members announced will arrive in U.S. theaters September 4, 2020, will bring those moments to light for the first time.

In the release celebrating the distribution deal with Disney, Jackson described the “joyous” nature of the discovery of the footage. “I’ve been privileged to be a fly on the wall while the greatest band of all time works, plays and creates masterpieces,” he said.

So does that mean we’ll see less of John Lennon ignoring George as he introduces “I Me Mine”? Apparently so. We’ll get more of the good and less of a band near total collapse. That probably means we won’t see the fights that directly led to George’s walkout. Everything involves a trade-off.

Also see: Why Paul McCartney Took Over the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Guitar Solo From George Harrison