The 'Lost' Beatles Concert Sony Won't Let You See

New lawsuit alleges documentary was blocked "at the eleventh hour"

The Beatles in 1964 / Photo by Getty Images
The Beatles in 1964 / Photo by Getty Images
WRITTEN BY
Colin Stutz

The crummy Let It Be musical gets to go to Broadway, a documentary about the Fab Four's secretary gets to use their songs, but footage of a full "lost" Beatles concert will not be coming to a theater near you.

A new lawsuit filed by Ace Arts alleges Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Apple Corps blocked the release of The Beatles: The Lost Concert, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Ace Arts had obtained 35 minutes of footage from the young band's February 11, 1964 performance at the Coliseum in Washington D.C., and had entered into agreement with leading cinema-advertising company Screenvision to show the film in 500 theaters nationwide. That's before Sony/ATV and Apple Corps interfered.

Apple Corps, the multimedia corporation the Beatles' founded in 1968, was allegedly planning its own use of the footage. Sony/ATV, in turn, decided to grant exclusive synchronization licenses to that company, prohibiting Ace Art's use of those songs' copyrights — action the plaintiff called "highly unusual" in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states, "At the eleventh hour, in mid-April 2012, Sony/ATV, at the insistence of, and in conspiracy with, Apple Corps, wrongfully interfered with the distribution contract by making false statements to exhibitors, theater owners and potential distributors concerning Ace's legal right to exhibit the documentary, making unjustified threats of legal action and filing a baseless lawsuit in England."

Ace Arts is suing Sony/ATV and Apple Corps on antitrust grounds, abuse of copyrights, tortious interference, and unfair competition. The plaintiff is also making claims its work was transformative, and that the documentary would have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to a press release released on April 24, 2012, the documentary charted the "birth and impact of Beatlemania in America," and its concert footage would be the only complete Beatles concert available to fans. The film included interviews with more than 20 associates and fans, including Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Chuck Berry, Mark Ronson, journalists Maureen Cleave, Larry Kane and Ed Rudy, concert promoter Sid Bernstein, George Harrison's sister Louise Harrison, the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi, Duffy, and Beatles historian Bruce Spizer.

The press release also states Iambic Media, a multiple award-winning documentary production company, was on board for the project. In October, 2012, Iambic Media folded following one of its subsidiary companies losing a British High Court battle over the staging of a Michael Jackson tribute concert at the Millennium Stadium in 2011.

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