Did The Beatles Approve Of The Movie Yesterday

Background Information

Yesterday is an award-winning 2019 romantic comedy-drama musical film directed by Danny Boyle. The movie follows singwriter Jack Malik’s journey to achieve musical stardom after a mysterious blackout erases all traces of The Beatles. After the blackout, Malik begins performing the band’s songs to the surprise of listeners in the U.S. and U.K., which starts to earn him fame and recognition. He eventually discovers that only he remembers The Beatles and their music.

The movie was released to critical acclaim in the United Kingdom on the 4th August 2019, and was released worldwide on the 26th July 2019 by Universal Pictures. Upon its release, Yesterday grossed over US$152 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing music-themed romantic comedy in history.

Data and Perspective from Experts

At the time of the movie’s release, it received largely positive reviews from critics on the aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, with an approval rating of 72% based on 190 reviews. Despite this, some Beatles fans have disagreed with the critical reception of the movie. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers said “Yesterday takes too many liberties with the Beatles’ music, and is weirdly sanitised”.

Other experts have viewed the movie more positively, with some comparing the film to the British musical comedy-drama films from the 1960s. For example, author and journalist Michael Hogan wrote, “at times the film harks back to the warm-hearted, whimsical British musicals of the 1960s, where after experiencing the odd travail, nearly everyone ends up smiling at the finale.” Hogan’s sentiments were echoed by another journalist, Caryn James, who argued that “The Beatles-less movie pays tribute to them while echoing both vintage British musicals of the 1960s and later music-driven films like “Pitch Perfect”.

The Beatles Point of View

The Beatles were understandably concerned with how their music would be portrayed in Yesterday. Ultimately, the band provided the movie with their seal of approval.This was confirmed to the general public in a statement released by Sir Paul McCartney, one of The Beatles’ original members. In the statement, McCartney said, “The movie encapsulates the joy and love that we all still share with The Beatles and allows the music to remain the star of the show. We are truly glad the film is being offered to the public.”

The band also set out a series of strict stipulations for the movie’s production team, especially when it came to the usage of the band’s music. These included not allowing any Beatles music to be used for dramatic, political or other purposes; such usage of their music was banned due to the raw emotions attached to the messages in The Beatles’ music. The band’s music was meant to make people happy while touching their hearts.


The Beatles’ approval of Yesterday was a clear demonstration of their deep respect and admiration of the movie’s production team. From the start, the production team worked hard to ensure that The Beatles’ music and legacy remained authentic and untarnished. There was an immense effort to represent The Beatles’ works with love and respect, rather than to exploit them.

Despite being a musical comedy-drama, Yesterday focuses on celebrating the music of The Beatles rather than simply exploiting its popularity and familiarity. One key moment in the movie is Jack Malik’s meeting with John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, where he pledges his true intentions to her. This scene displays that Malik genuinely cares about The Beatles and makes it clear that he is not going to exploit their music for personal gain.

As a result of their outstanding efforts, the production team were able to please The Beatles, who later praised the movie in their statement. This is a testament to the onscreen portrayal of The Beatles’ works and demonstrates the skill and creativity of the movie’s production team.


The movie’s soundtrack consists entirely of The Beatles’ songs, including tracks from their 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Other tracks include “Come Together”, “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Back in the U.S.S.R” and “Help!”. According to Billboard, the soundtrack made it to the Billboard 200 chart where it held the number one spot for seven weeks in 2019.

The soundtrack featured over a dozen cover versions of some of The Beatles’ most popular tracks, including Ed Sheeran’s rendition of “Yesterday” and Jonas Brothers’ version of “Drive My Car”. Although these cover versions were initially met with some criticism, they nevertheless showcased the charm and influence of The Beatles’ original music.

Marketing Campaign

The movie makers had to be creative in their approach to the marketing of the movie, as The Beatles had very stringent rules on how their music could be used. As a result, the marketing team did not focus on traditional advertisements but instead opted to create a marketing campaign around the concept of the movie.

The marketing campaign included a series of trailers, posters and social media activity. This strategy allowed the movie to create a unique brand identity and reach a broader audience. The marketing campaign also focused on utilising fans of The Beatles’ music to reach more potential customers, as well as increasing the movie’s profile in the U.K. and the U.S.

Public Perception

Despite the initial concerns regarding The Beatles’ involvement in the movie, the public have ultimately shown their support for it. Before its release, interest for the movie was high, with it being featured in numerous popular entertainment magazines and websites.

Overall, the movie was well received by both fans of The Beatles and new viewers. Fans showed appreciation for the movie’s heartfelt tribute to the band’s music and legacy, as well as the movie’s clever comedic moments. New audiences praised the movie for its unique approach to The Beatles’ music, with many remarking that Yesterday allowed them to experience the band’s music and genius in a new light.

Freak Out moments

The Beatles had famously strict rules on usage of their music, leaving the movie’s production team with little room for error. As a result, a few discrepancies were made during the movie’s production phase which could have triggered a possible legal dispute or even halted the movie’s production.

One of these possible freak out moments occurred with actress Lily James’ musical performance of “When I’m 64”. Initially, the production team did not seek permission for its usage, leading The Beatles’ estate to voice their concerns. Fortunately, they were placated and allowed the scene to remain, albeit with minor alterations.

Another moment was when a guitar riff from Paul McCartney’s 1979 track “Every Night” was mistakenly used in the movie. McCartney’s team notified the movie’s production team right away, without threatening any legal action. The riff was quickly edited out from the movie, with the production team thanking McCartney for his quick response.


The success of the movie’s soundtrack was also achievable due to The Beatles’ permission. This was due to the fact that the band previously held firm control over the usage of their music, particularly after their music was famously used in the movie Across the Universe. As a result, The Beatles’ recognising yesterday as a legitimate movie is a testament to how the band are still held in high regard and have their music respected.

In order to receive The Beatles’ approval, the entire production team had to make a number of changes in order to make the movie as respectful and authentic to the original works. These include editing out lines in the script that refer to The Beatles’ music in a negative light; as well as ensuring that any covers of The Beatles’ tracks did not distort the band’s message.


Due to the movie

Richard Lapoint

Richard P. Lapoint is a music journalist and author who has been writing about rock bands for over 25 years. He has interviewed many of the biggest names in the music industry and has produced content on some of the genre's most iconic groups. His mission is to ensure that the music and its legacy are remembered, celebrated, and respected.

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