Lord of the Rings: Peter Jackson Says JRR Tolkien Rejected the Beatles’ Attempt to Make It Into a Movie

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Peter Jackson’s docuseries The Beatles: Get Back is now streaming on Disney+ and while the filmmaker’s latest work focuses on the making of the iconic band’s final album, Let it Be, it turns out that there’s an interesting connection between The Beatles and Jackson’s most famous work, his Lord of the Rings series. It turns out that, back in 1968, The Beatles wanted to make their own film adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but were denied rights by author J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson told the BBC (via Insider) that he’s putting together all the bits of information he can about the project and that the band had been sent copies of the trilogy by their producer Denis O’Dell when they visited India.

“I expect because there are three, he sent one book to each of the Beatles,” Jackson said. “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.”

Jackson went on to explain that the musicians’ excitement led them to want to turn the story into a movie and had even decided on casting – Paul McCartney would have been Frodo, John Lennon would have been Gollum, George Harrison would have been Gandalf, and Ringo Starr would have been Sam with the band wanting 2001: A Space Odyssey director Stanley Kubrick to helm the project – but they were shot down by Tolkien.

“Ultimately, they couldn’t get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story,” Jackson said. “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.”

While The Beatles may have been denied the opportunity to adapt Lord of the Rings for the big screen, Jackson did ultimately bring the story to life in the early 2000s with the series becoming one of the most successful film trilogies of all time.

The official description of The Beatles: Get Back is as follows: “The Beatles: Get Back takes audiences back in time to the band’s January 1969 recording sessions, which became a pivotal moment in music history. The docuseries showcases The Beatles’ creative process as they attempt to write 14 new songs in preparation for their first live concert in over two years. Faced with a nearly impossible deadline, the strong bonds of friendship shared by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are put to the test. The docuseries is compiled from nearly 60 hours of unseen footage shot over 21 days, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and from more than 150 hours of unheard audio, most of which has been locked in a vault for over half a century. Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to this Beatles treasure trove, all of which has now been brilliantly restored. What emerges is an unbelievably intimate portrait of The Beatles, showing how, with their backs against the wall, they could still rely on their friendship, good humor, and creative genius. While plans derail and relationships are put to the test, some of the world’s most iconic songs are composed and performed. The docuseries features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be. The three-part docuseries includes never-before-seen, restored footage that at times includes explicit language, mature themes, and smoking. Viewer discretion is advised.”

The Beatles: Get Back is streaming now on Disney+.

Would you have wanted to see a Beatles version of Lord of the Rings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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