The Beatles, the Maharishi and The Lord Of The Rings

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The news, earlier this week, that Peter Jackson was to direct a new documentary from Let It Be footage brings full circle one of the weirder footnotes in The Beatles’ career. In 1968, while The Beatles visited Rishikesh in northern India, Denis O’Dell – the head of Apple Films – was in the process of renegotiate The Beatles’ film contracts. Among the ideas discussed for a new Fabs’ film was… Tolkein’s epic. Here’s O’Dell, from an interview I conducted with him a couple of years ago to tell all…

"They were out in India. I declined to go. I got a telegram one day. Paul again. ‘Denis, come out right away.’ So I went out there. Before, while they were there, I’d had meetings in New York with David Picker, who was head of UA at the time. I was going there to renegotiate The Beatles contracts in the event they did a film. That was great but the weakness was, they didn’t have a film. Everything you suggested, you couldn’t get agreement. I was going up in the elevator to David’s office and I thought, ‘Christ. The Tolkein. Four little people, with Donovan as well.’ I said to David Picker, ‘Can I get ten minutes to make a few phone calls.’ I rang a good friend of mine, a lawyer, Jack Schwartzman, in Los Angeles. I said, ‘Jack, can you buy the rights to the Tolkein for Apple?’ Silence. I said, ‘What’s up?’



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