“He didn’t like the idea of a pop group doing his story.”
There could have been a very different The Lord of the Rings movie — that is, if the Beatles had anything to say about it!
Back in 1968, the group attempted to make to their own LOTR film, but were stopped by author J.R.R. Tolkien.
According to filmmaker Peter Jackson, who directed both the LOTR trilogy and the new Beatles documentary Get Back, the band was completely invested in the idea.
“I’ve been scraping together little pieces of information. I’ve been interrogating Paul [McCartney] about it. Ringo [Starr] doesn’t remember much,” Peter told BBC.
He continued, “What I understand is that Denis O’Dell, who was their Apple film producer, who produced The Magic Christian, had the idea of doing Lord of the Rings.”
Peter explained that Denis sent the band copies of the books while they were visiting India in the late ’60s.
“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,” Peter shared.
But when they tried to move forward with the project, they could not obtain the rights from Tolkien.
“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,” Peter revealed.
Should the movie have gone forward, it’s rumored that Paul would have played Frodo, John Lennon would’ve played Gollum, George Harrison would’ve played Gandalf, and Ringo would’ve played Sam.
The group had even reportedly selected Stanley Kubrick to direct the project, although Peter says he couldn’t get Paul to confirm the details.
“Apparently Paul couldn’t remember exactly when I spoke to him, but I believe that is the case,” Peter noted.
More than 30 years later, Peter would become the one to bring The Lord of the Rings books to life.
“Paul said, ‘Well I’m glad we didn’t do it, because you got to do yours and I liked your film.’ But I said to him, ‘Well, it’s a shame you didn’t do it, because it would have been a musical,'” Peter concluded.