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Sam Mendes to make a biopic about each Beatle member

The Beatles
The surviving Beatles and families of Lennon and Harrison are backing the project, the first time that they have granted full rights to their life stories - Jeff Hochberg/Getty Images

Sam Mendes is to direct four biopics of the Beatles, one about each member of the band.

The “astonishing story of the greatest band in history” will be told from the separate perspectives of Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Sir Ringo Starr.

The films will be released in 2027 in an “innovative and groundbreaking” way, according to distributor Sony Pictures.

The company is withholding details of whether all four will be released on the same date - allowing fans to watch them back-to-back in a viewing marathon or close succession.

But a Sony spokesman said that the manner of release will be “something we haven’t seen before in terms of a theatrical experience for consumers”.

Mendes said: “I’m honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time, and excited to challenge the notion of what constitutes a trip to the movies.”

The surviving Beatles and the families of Lennon and Harrison are backing the project, the first time that they have granted full rights to their life stories and Beatles’ music.

Pippa Harris, Mendes’ producing partner, explained: “We intend this to be a uniquely thrilling and epic cinematic experience: four films, told from four different perspectives, which tells a single story about the most celebrated band of all time.

“To have the Beatles’ and Apple Corps’ blessing to do this is an immense privilege.”

Sam Mendes said he was 'honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time'
Mendes said he was 'honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time' - Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In the official press release for the project, Tom Rothman, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures, said: “Theatrical movie events today must be culturally seismic. Sam’s daring, large-scale idea is that and then some.”

Mendes won the Best Director Oscar in 2000 for American Beauty and was nominated in 2020 for his First World War film 1917.

Harris told the Deadline website: “This project springs from an idea of Sam’s which he had over a year ago, and it’s a testament to his creative brilliance and powers of persuasion that Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Sean Lennon and Olivia Harrison responded with such warmth and enthusiasm as soon as he spoke with them.

“What is truly exciting is for Sam to have the freedom to delve into the lives of each of the Beatles, with nothing off limits and no sense of the band wanting him to tell a particular ‘authorised’ version of their rise to success.”

McCartney is said to have been dissatisfied with unauthorised films about the band.

He reportedly said of Backbeat, which portrayed the group’s early days and focused on Stuart Sutcliffe, their original bassist: “One of my annoyances about the film Backbeat is that they’ve actually taken my rock ‘n’ rollness off me. They give John the song Long Tall Sally to sing and he never sang it in his life. But now it’s set in cement.”

McCartney was consulted on Nowhere Boy, a film about John Lennon’s teenage years, and asked Sam Taylor-Wood to make changes because he thought the portrayal of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi was too unkind.

‘We loved it’

He was happier with Yesterday, a Richard Curtis romcom which doesn’t tell the Beatles’ story but uses the band’s music. It stars Himesh Patel as a musician who wakes up in an alternate reality to discover he is the only person who remembers the band.

Sir Paul said: “Richard Curtis wrote to me with the idea. And I thought, ‘That’s a terrible idea,’ but I couldn’t tell him, so I said, ‘Well, that sounds interesting - good luck’.”

However, he enjoyed the film and watched it at the cinema with his wife, Nancy Shevell.

“We were in the Hamptons in the summer and there it was, so we got two tickets and walked in when the cinema went dark. Only a couple of people saw us,” he told an interviewer.

“We were in the back row, giggling away, especially at all the mentions of ‘Paul McCartney’. A couple of people in front of us spotted us, but everyone else was watching the film. We loved it.”