The Beatles announced Wednesday that they have teamed up with filmmaker Peter Jackson on a new film about the sessions in which the band recorded their final album, Let It Be, in early 1969.
The film, a venture of the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. and Jackson’s WingNut Films Ltd., will be able to use “55 hours of never-released footage of The Beatles in the studio,” according to a press release announcing the project. The announcement came on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ famous London rooftop concert, which is included among the footage.
Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are cooperating with the film, as are Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of the late John Lennon and George Harrison.
Jackson will restore the footage, along with his partners on the recent documentary project They Shall Not Grow Old, which restored a trove of century-old footage from World War I.
There was already a documentary about the Beatles’ recording of the album, also called Let It Be, which was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and released in 1970. The film, which depicts some of the tension that would lead to the band’s breakup that year, has been unavailable in any home video format for the last 30 years. The announcement also said that in addition to the Jackson film, a restored version of Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be will also be released.
Peter Jackson, best known for the Lord of the Rings film series, said in a statement that the footage he viewed was different from the widely held belief that the Beatles were at the breaking point with each other at the time of these recordings.
“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson said. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate.”
Let It Be was the final Beatles album to be released, although 1969’s Abbey Road was recorded later. A revisionist version of the album called Let It Be… Naked, initiated by McCartney and stripped of production touches from producer Phil Spector, was released in 2003.
The film is currently in production with a release date to be announced.