Peter Jackson Recalls The Beatles’ Failed Attempt to Make a Lord of the Rings Movie


Here’s a fun fact. What do Peter Jackson and The Beatles have in common? Answer: They both wanted to make a movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings! The only difference is that Jackson actually was able to achieve that goal. With his newest project, the docu-series The Beatles: Get Back, now streaming on Disney+. Jackson mentioned this cool tidbit of history to the BBC (courtesy of Insider), which can be read below. It turns out the band members were sent copies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy by their producer, Denis O’Dell, when they visited India in the late 60’s.

“I expect because there are three, he sent one book to each of the Beatles. I don’t think Ringo got one, but John, Paul, and George each got one ‘Lord of The Rings’ book to read in India. And they got excited about it.”

This wasn’t quite as big of a stretch to pitch back in the day, it was common for music artists to also expand to acting. Throughout the 60’s, Elvis Presley starred in such films as Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas, and many more. The Beatles themselves had also dabbled in the silver screen with such movies as A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. O’Dell had a hand in producing A Hard Day’s Night. The story goes that the band had a third and final movie left on their contract with United Artists. The cast would have consisted of Paul McCartney as Frodo, John Lennon as Gollum, George Harrison as Gandalf, and Ringo Starr as Samwise. The band also wanted to bring on 2001: A Space Odyssey and Spartacus director Stanley Kubrick. According to Jackson, the project was ultimately shut down by none other than Tolkien himself.


“Ultimately, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story. So it got nixed by him. They tried to do it. There’s no doubt about it. For a moment in time, they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968.”

Tolkien’s epic fantasy journey ended up getting a few notable adaptations in the end. The first venture to cinemas was with Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated Lord of the Rings, which adapted the first two books to screen. While there were plans for a sequel to finish off Return of the King, they were shot down due to the movie’s poor box office revenue.

Fans of Tolkien finally got to see their favorite story come to cinemas in live action with Peter Jackson’s trilogy, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. Jackson shot all three films simultaneously and entirely in his home country of New Zealand. The trilogy, distributed by New Line Cinema, has gone on to become one of the most successful film series of all time. With a budget of $281 million, and a revenue of $2.991 billion worldwide. The third film, Return of the King, won all 11 Oscars it was nominated for.

While The Beatles never got to officially tie their fame in with Tolkien’s fantasy legacy, they still managed to enjoy a career with film after Lord of the Rings fell through. Their third production with United Artists ended up being the infamously trippy Yellow Submarine, which starred the band in animated form going on a journey to stop an army of blue meanies. Yellow Submarine was a hit with audiences that were tired to Disney dominating the animation world. The film’s soundtrack introduced previously unreleased songs “Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need is Love” eager fans.

Fans new and old can now enjoy the Fab Four in The Beatles: Get Back. The three part docuseries follows the band during the creation of their 1970 album Let it Be. The surviving members of the band, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, worked alongside Jackson. In a news release with, Paul McCartney expressed his excitement working with Jackson.

“I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about the Beatles recording together. The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”

The series was overall praised by critics for its use of archival footage and showing the inner workings of the band. It was also praised for bringing a more upbeat tone into the production of the album, which was always believed to be a tense and challenging time for the Fab Four. The Beatles: Get Back is now available for streaming on Disney+.

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