8 movies The Beatles very nearly starred in

Hanna Flint
Contributor
Yesterday imagines a world without The Beatles (Credit: Universal)

Danny Boyle’s new movie Yesterday imagines a world without The Beatles in it, but there are already a few movies where that is actually the case.

The Fab Four might be best known for their music but they also enjoyed a little cinematic success too with A Hard Day’s Night and Help!.

However, not every movie offer was their cup of tea so here’s a few that didn’t entice The Beatles to star.

The Lord of the Rings

The Beatles (Credit: Getty)

United Artists acquired the film rights for JRR Tolkien's book series for $250,000 in 1969 and The Beatles were going to star in the adaptation, as they had read it as teens in the 50s.

They had hoped to secure Stanley Kubrick to direct the film and turn it into a psychedelic fantasy featuring their original songs.

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Paul McCartney was going to play Frodo Baggins, Ringo Starr his best mate Sam Gamgee, George Harrison would portray Gandalf and John Lennon was set to play Gollum.

However, Peter Jackson, having spoken to McCartney about it, confirmed that Kubrick turned them down and Tolkien said no to the collaboration with the band.

The Three Musketeers

The Beatles (Credit: Getty)

An adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel was proposed to the band but by the mid-60s they weren’t up for the physical comedy expected for the roles.

Despite saying no to the movie, director Dick Lester, who had been at the helm of their first two films - A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, went onto direct three films about The Three Musketeers: 1973’s The Three Musketeers, 1974’s The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge, and 1989’s The Return of the Three Musketeers.

The Jungle Book

Disney had wanted The Beatles to voice the vultures in The Jungle Book (Credit: Getty)

Disney’s musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s book has four vultures in it with Merseyside-sounding accents and Beatles-like Mod hair and there’s a reason for it.

The studio had hoped the Fab Four would voice the feathery characters and write some music for the animated feature too but apparently, John Lennon was not a fan of the idea so they didn’t.

The Yellow Teddy Bears

The Yellow Teddy Bears was the band's first movie offer

The Beatles’ first movie offer was to appear in this 1964 comedy about school girls who wore yellow teddy bears on their uniform to signify they were no longer virgins.

The band were asked to perform six songs they hadn’t actually written and inevitably they turned the gig down.

A Talent for Loving

A Talent for Loving (1969)

The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had bought the rights to Richard Condon’s script and he had a meeting with the Fab Four to discuss them appearing in it as cowboys. The screenplay, adapted from the novel Condon had written with his wife Evelyn, was one of several under consideration for the band, who were signed to a three-film deal with United Artists at the time.

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United Artists was behind The Beatles’ first film A Hard Day’s Night, which was produced by George Ornstein and his production company Pickfair Films and they had planned on making A Talent for Loving with a budget of £1 million, however, they reportedly couldn’t reach an agreement on the script so the group passed on it.

A Talent for Loving was made in 1969, while The Beatles were making Help!, and starred Richard Widmark, Topol, and Cesar Romero instead.

Shades of Personality

The Beatles (Credit: Getty)

This film would have focused on a man - played by John Lennon - with a split personality and each of the personalities portrayed by Paul, George and Ringo.

The film was penned by Owen Holder in 1966 but it didn’t capture the interest of Walter Shenton, the producer of The Beatles’ movies, or the band to develop further.

Up Against It

The Beatles (Credit: Getty)

Instead, Shenton gave the script to the author and playwright Joe Orton to punch up and redraft so Shades of Personality became Up Against It. Orton used some of the original draft but added the opening from his lost novel The Silver Bucket and borrowed a lot from his final novel, The Vision of Gombold Provol, which was posthumously published as Head to Toe in 1959.

The script was submitted to Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein but after not hearing back for a long-time the rights reverted back to Orton.

Orton changed up a lot of the script and characters for it to be accepted by producer Oscar Lewenstein but on the day he was meant to meet potential director Richard Lester, he was murdered by his companion Kenneth Halliwell.

Halliwell had bludgeoned Orton to death with a hammer before committing suicide with an overdose of Nembutal tablets.

A musical theatre adaptation of the script was performed Off-Broadway in 1989 and a radio play was broadcast in 1997, on BBC Radio 3, featuring Joseph Fiennes, Fawlty Towers′ Prunella Scales, Blur's Damon Albarn and Leo McKern who had previously starred as the villain in Help!.

Yellow Submarine (remake)

The Beatles, Yellow Submarine - 1968 (Credit REX/Shutterstock (1933403c)

Robert Zemeckis was meant to release a remake of Yellow Submarine ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games but Disney decided against it. The remake would be a motion-capture enterprise with animation but after A Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms under-performed the studio stopped production and allowed Zemeckis to shop the idea elsewhere.

The director had been working on it since 2009 but fell out of love with the concept.“That would have been a great one to bring The Beatles back to life,” he told Total Film. “But it’s probably better not to be remade – you’re always behind the 8-ball when do you a remake.

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“It gets harder and harder [to make movies]. With the current state of the industry, it’s difficult to stay passionate about it.”

Technically the band were never attached to appear in the movie but it seems pretty likely they were asked at some point and they declined.

Yesterday is in cinemas from Friday, 28 June. Watch a trailer below.