‘The Beatles: Get Back,’ a Revealing Documentary, Headed to Theaters this Fall

When esteemed film director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) announced plans last year to create the “ultimate fly on the wall” Beatles experience, he made it known he intended to use the 200-plus hours of audio recordings and video footage at his disposal to present an uplifting counter-narrative to the often morose tone of the 1970 film Let It Be, which chronicled John, Paul, George, and Ringo in 1969 rehearsing and recording songs for an album of the same name that was recorded before Abbey Road but released in 1970 after the band had broken up.

The Walt Disney Studios announced yesterday that it has acquired worldwide distribution rights to the Jackson-helmed documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, and plans to release it to theaters nationwide on September 4. Presented in association with The Beatles-owned Apple Corps Ltd. and Jackson’s WingNut Films Productions Ltd., the film is being 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.

"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," Disney executive chairman Robert Iger told shareholders yesterday at the company’s annual meeting. "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."

Compiled from 55 hours of unseen footage filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and 140 hours of mostly unheard audio recordings from the Let It Be album sessions — including an unedited version of the iconic rooftop performance — the film will feature footage that has been “brilliantly restored” by Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand and edited by Jabez Olssen, who collaborated with Jackson on 2018’s They Shall Not Grow Old, which featured restored and colorized archival footage from World War I.

Music featured in the film will be mixed at Abbey Road Studios by Sam Okell and Giles Margin, son of legendary producer George Martin.

Jackson’s documentary brings to light more of the band’s intimate recording sessions for the Let It Be album as it captures John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr laughing, bantering, and playing to the camera while creating now-classic songs. The new documentary is notable for including all 42 minutes of the impromptu “concert” performance shot January 30, 1969 on the rooftop of Apple’s Savile Row office in London. The footage captures interactions between band members, reactions from fans and employees from nearby businesses, and comical attempts to stop the concert by two young policemen responding to noise complaints.

"Working on this project has been a joyous discovery,” Jackson said. “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."

"I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about The Beatles recording together,” Paul McCartney said. “The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had."

Ringo Starr added: "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 [the 1970 documentary Let It Be] 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."

Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and shot on 16mm film that was blown up to 35mm, the original Let It Be film ran 80 minutes and revolved around three weeks of filming, including an edited version of the rooftop concert. Although filming and recording of the album took place in January 1969, the movie and Grammy-winning album were not released until May 1970, three weeks after The Beatles had officially broken up. Response to the film at the time was strongly associated with the band’s break-up.

During the 15-month gap between the filming of Let It Be and its release, The Beatles recorded and released their final studio album, Abbey Road, which came out in September 1969.

A fully restored version of the original "Let It Be" film is also in the works.