Ron Howard to direct new Beatles concert documentary

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(Photo: Christie's Images Ltd. 2011)

Time to scream for Beatlemania again.

Apple Corps, the Beatles’ business organization, and director Ron Howard are teaming up for a documentary on the Fab Four’s touring years, according to a statement released by the principals.

The film will chronicle the rise of Beatlemania, which coincided with the group’s relentless touring of England, continental Europe, North America and parts of Asia from 1964 to 1966 — a punishing schedule of frantic audiences, challenging security and occasional political difficulties that eventually prompted the group to withdraw to the studio, with small exceptions, until its 1970 breakup.

Among the group’s trailblazing concerts were the New York Shea Stadium shows in 1965 and 1966, a performance at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan in 1966 and a show at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966 — the group’s final American concert.

The tours weren’t without problems. On a 1966 stop in the Philippines, the Beatles skipped an invitation to a breakfast hosted by first lady Imelda Marcos and were accused of snubbing her. In response, the group’s police protection was pulled and the group’s entourage was attacked at the airport.

Later that year, while touring America, John Lennon’s comments about the group being “more popular than Jesus” set off record burnings and protests in some cities.

“The way the Beatles burst onto the scene in Britain was an overwhelming social, cultural and musical phenomenon, but was even then eclipsed by that extraordinary explosion on the American scene and then the world,” said producer Nigel Sinclair of White Horse Pictures, which is co-producing the film, in the statement. Sinclair’s credits include the documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”

The production team also includes Imagine Entertainment, Howard’s producing shingle. Howard, one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, won an Oscar for directing 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind.”

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