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Sam Mendes, Sony & Apple Corps Set Four Beatles Theatrical Movies On Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison & Ringo Starr

EXCLUSIVE: In a move that ought to make fans of The Beatles twist and shout, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes and his Neal Street Productions have set plans to make four separate theatrical films — one on each of the members of music’s most famous and enduring band.

Mendes will direct all four of the films, and this marks the first time Apple Corps Ltd. and The Beatles – Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison – have granted full life story and music rights for a scripted film.

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Mendes conceived this grand vision. He’ll tell interconnected stories, one from each band member’s point of view. The dating cadence of the films will be revealed closer to the films’ release. I’m told they are locking down writers quickly.

This is perhaps the most ambitious project Deadline has revealed exclusively since our break that Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman are teaming with SpaceX and NASA to shoot a narrative film in outer space. That complicated project is still on the launch pad at Universal, but plans are set here for SPE to finance and distribute worldwide with full theatrical windows in 2027.

All of this came about when American Beauty Oscar winner Mendes pitched the project in Hollywood, and just about everyone flipped their mop-tops for it. SPE’s Tom Rothman and Elizabeth Gabler, who gravitate to the most ambitious and prestige stuff, sparked to the opportunity and won the package.

“We went out to L.A. just before Christmas to pitch the project, and it’s fair to say we were met with universal enthusiasm,” Mendes told Deadline. “The reason Sony stood out from competing offers was down to Tom and Elizabeth’s passion for the idea and commitment to propelling these films theatrically in an innovative and exciting way.”

Starr weighed in about the projects on X/Twitter today:

In addition to directing all four films, Mendes will produce alongside his Neal Street Productions partner Pippa Harris and Neal Street’s Julie Pastor. Jeff Jones will be executive producer for Apple Corps Ltd.

“This project springs from an idea of Sam’s which he had over a year ago,” said Harris, “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.”

The Beatles performing in their U.S. TV debut on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ from CBS’ studios in Manhattan
The Beatles performing in their U.S. TV debut on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ from CBS’ studios in Manhattan

The Beatles changed the face of music and pop culture fame, and their popularity eclipsed even that of Elvis Presley after they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and tore the roof off the place, inspiring countless great musicians who watched as children and knew what they wanted to do with their lives. There have been terrific documentaries on the band – Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years and Peter Jackson’s docuseries The Beatles: Get Back are two examples — and Apple Corps also has been involved with Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show The Beatles Love and a dedicated SiriusXM radio channel to feed the voracious appetite of fans.

RELATED: Peter Jackson On His Four-Year Obsession That Led To ‘Get Back’ & Who Really Broke Up The Beatles

Mendes and SPE will find their own lane in films about Paul, John, George and Ringo’s coming of age when they became global recording and film stars who made young girls swoon and left the quartet often running for their lives from pursuing crowds of fans. The band evolved from the lovable Mop Tops who sang blues-inspired love songs to daring, edgy artists who embraced hot-button issues of the ’60s. After the breakup in 1970, each member faced the impossible task of living up to the band’s success. But all of them blazed paths in different directions, as solo artists with reams of No. 1 hit records and by touching the culture in other ways.

The Beatles
The Beatles in 1963

For bassist and songwriter McCartney, it was teaming with his life love Linda McCartney to form Wings. For guitarist and songwriter Lennon, it was his romantic and music and activism partnership with Yoko Ono. Lead guitarist Harrison immersed himself in Indian culture and would co-found supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and ELO’s Jeff Lynne, and he organized the Concert for Bangladesh to ease starvation and suffering of refugees during a civil war there. Drummer Starr had his enduring marriage to actress Barbara Bach and as toured with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

RELATED: Paul McCartney Pays Tribute To Wings Longtime Bandmate Denny Laine: “Great Talent With A Fine Sense Of Humour”

Each faced adversity. Harrison nearly was killed in a 1999 stabbing attack when a man diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic broke into his home, but the assault was stopped by wife Olivia who incapacitated the attacker with a fireplace poker. Lennon tragically was shot dead in 1980 when returning to his Central Park residence The Dakota by another deranged fan. McCartney and Starr still are going strong. No matter where Mendes goes, the long and winding road features compelling narrative yarns.

The studio confirmed the deal.

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison in THE BEATLES: GET BACK
From left: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison in ‘The Beatles: Get Back’

“We intend this to be a uniquely thrilling, and epic cinematic experience: four films, told from four different perspectives which tell a single story about the most celebrated band of all time,” said Harris in a statement. “To have The Beatles’ and Apple Corps’ blessing to do this is an immense privilege. From our first meeting with Tom Rothman and Elizabeth Gabler, it was clear that they shared both our passion and ambition for this project, and we can’t think of a more perfect home than Sony Pictures.”

Said Apple Corps Ltd. CEO Jones: “Apple Corps is delighted to collaborate with Sam, Pippa and Julie to explore each Beatle’s unique story and to bring them together in a suitably captivating and innovative way. Sony Pictures’ enthusiastic support, championing the project’s scope and creative vision from the start, has been invaluable for all of us.”

Said Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman/CEO Rothman: “I know I speak for our CEO Tony Vinciquerra, who was instrumental in making this happen, and every Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group colleague around the world when I say: ‘yeah, yeah, yeah!’ Theatrical movie events today must be culturally seismic. Sam’s daring, large-scale idea is that and then some. Pairing his premiere filmmaking team, with the music and the stories of four young men who changed the world, will rock audiences all over the globe. We are deeply grateful to all parties and look forward ourselves to breaking some rules with Sam’s uniquely artistic vision.”

The Beatles
The Beatles in 1967

Mendes told Deadline the project couldn’t have happened without a little help from the friends quoted above. “None of this could have come together without Jeff Jones and Lee Eastman’s support — they have been completely instrumental behind the scenes,” he said.

Harris told Deadline, “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 ‘authorized’ version of their rise to success.”

CAA brokered the deal for Mendes and Neal Street. Mendes last directed the critically acclaimed Empire of Light, inspired by his mother, and the World War I epic 1917, which was inspired by his grandfather’s harrowing experience as a runner in the trenches.

Let the buzz begin on who might be right to play each Beatles member.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the “bed-in” in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton hotel in the Netherlands, March 26, 1969
John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the “bed-in” in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton hotel in the Netherlands, March 26, 1969
Linda McCartney and Paul McCartney of Wings in 1973
Linda McCartney and Paul McCartney of Wings in 1973
Ringo Starr with his wife, actress Barbara Bach, in 1981
Ringo Starr with his wife, actress Barbara Bach, in 1981
George Harrison and his wife Olivia arrive at for the 1981 wedding of Ringo Starr
George Harrison and his wife Olivia arrive at for the 1981 wedding of Ringo Starr

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