Ron Howard, a fan of The Beatles for most of his life, will direct and produce an authorized documentary on the group’s touring years between 1960 and 1966.
Apple Corps Ltd., White Horse Pictures and Howard’s Imagine Entertainment will produce the documentary with the cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.
Besides Howard, producers are White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Howard’s longtime producing partner Brian Grazer. Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East will executive produce along with Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde for Apple Corps — which represents the interests of The Beatles.
“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,” Howard said. “Their impact on popular culture and the human experience cannot be exaggerated.”
Howard and Sinclair plan to have the untitled film finished and in theaters by the end of next year.
The Beatles began playing as a group at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1960, followed by clubs in Hamburg and England and a European tour in late 1963. The iconic Ed Sullivan appearance on Feb. 9, 1964, caused their popularity to explode and their first world tour began that summer.
By the final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in August, 1966, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities around the world. Howard said the film will explore why The Beatles became so popular by examining the era’s social and political context.
“After I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, all I wanted after that was a Beatles wig,” Howard recalled. “My parents said no but then they gave me one for my 10th birthday.”
The film will make extensive use of concert footage — some of it shot on movie cameras by fans — and mixes of sound board recordings. Howard believes that the finished film will contain between 12 and 20 songs.
“What’s unique about The Beatles is that they were so exceptional yet so relatable,” Howard noted.
Howard and Grazer have produced “Apollo 13,” “Frost/Nixon,” “A Beautiful Mind,” the music-themed “8 Mile” and “Rush.” It will be the second documentary for Howard following 2013’s “Made in America” about Jay-Z’s tour.
Howard said discussion about The Beatles with Sinclair began while they were working on race-car drama “Rush,” produced while Sinclair was CEO of Exclusive Media. “I told Nigel the story about the Beatles wig,” he added.
Sinclair has an extensive resume on music documentaries including Martin Scorsese’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” which won two Emmys; “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” for which Sinclair won a Grammy; “Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who”; “The Last Play At Shea” and “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth,” which also won a Grammy.
Pascucci, managing director of Concord Music Group and former head of Warner’s Rhino Entertainment, was an executive producer on “George Harrison” and has worked on the documentary “Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin.’”
This project was originally brought to Apple Corps by One Voice One World, which has conducted research — including inviting Beatles fans to send in clips of home movies and photos. The company’s Matthew White, Stuart Samuels, and Bruce Higham are co-producers.
Paul Crowder will serve as editor. He directed and edited “Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who” and “The Last Play at Shea.” Hi long-time collaborator Mark Monroe will serve as writer.
Nicholas Ferrall will be the executive in charge of production for White Horse Pictures, founded earlier this year by Sinclair with long-time partner Guy East.
Sinclair saw The Beatles as a 17-year-old in Scotland and still retains a photo from that event signed by all four members.
“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,” he said. “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.”