1964 was the first year people tried to convert the popularity of The Beatles into box office success. A Hard Days Night was an attempt by United Artists to cash in on the four lads from Liverpool and their “Mersey sound” before the bubble burst.
As the decade wore on and Beatlemania refused to become a passing fad the band were given several more star vehicles. The last of these was 1970s Let It Be, which won an Oscar for its soundtrack.
Documenting the band’s breakup and capturing their final live performance from a Savile Row rooftop, there was an air of finality to Let It Be. With no more Beatles, there would no more Beatle movies, right?
Wrong. There was plenty of juice left in one of music’s most remarkable back catalogues. Whether capitalising on baby boomer nostalgia or appealing to a whole new generation of fans, The Beatles remain a money-making machine. One that film makers have been happy to benefit from over the years.
The films on this list range from your classic jukebox musical to films that are altogether weirder but each of them relies on the enduring quality and popularity of Beatlemusic.
7. I Am Sam
”Major selling point” might be a little unfair to this touching, custody-battle drama. The Beatles aren’t the films main focus but they do run right through it like the name through a stick of rock.
Sean Penn, as the titular Sam, plays a Beatles obsessive, the script is riddled with Beatle references and their music was even played everyday on set while the movie was shooting.
The film was even directed and edited with a Beatles soundtrack in mind. As director Jessie Nelson told the Los Angeles Times, “I was so naive writing the script that I thought, ‘Oh, this wonderful. I’ll get 12 Beatles songs and we’ll just have them run through the movie’.”
Failing to secure the rights, Nelson settled for covers instead. But there wasn’t much room for the artists to experiment on their tracks. Because the film was already edited, bands had to record to a clicktrack so their covers matched the tempo of the originals.