As a lifelong Beatles fanatic, I am well aware of their plans to make a Lord of the Rings movie. When they hit the big time, that signed a contract for 3 feature films. The first two were A Hard Day's Night and Help!, after which they got bored with movies and focused on making revolutionary rock and roll. However, they were still contractually obligated to make a third film.

Around 1966-67, they finally started thinking about what this film should be. John Lennon suggested The Lord of the Rings, which he and the other Beatles were fans of. Everyone loved this idea, and they decided which characters each of them should play:

  • John = Gollum
  • Paul = Frodo
  • Ringo = Samwise
  • George = Gandalf

They wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct the movie, but he refused, apparently because the scope of the project intimidated him.

Unfortunately (who knows whether the movie would be any good, but just think of how awesome the soundtrack would be!), the idea was eventually scrapped.

Why? Has the reason ever been revealed?

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    Because the Beatles doing LoTR would have ended up being about as close as Space Balls is to Star Wars ... – brhans Jul 22 '15 at 14:02
  • @brhans, I dunno... I mean it depends how campy they went with. But everyone mentioned there were very talented people. (But I do agree that it could've been disastrous as well.) – YungHummmma Jul 22 '15 at 19:17
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    @brhans, or as close as Spock + Hobbit. – Paul Draper Jul 22 '15 at 19:54
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    These days, with big, high quality CGI movies, it's hard to remember that before Peter Jackson stories like Lord of the Rings was considered unfilmable. Heck, I personally considered it unfilmable when I first read the book. The best you could come up with was something like Willow or Krull – slebetman Jul 23 '15 at 2:19
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    @Praxis: I meant (big (high quality CGI) movies). not (big high quality (CGI) movies). Yeah, the screenplay these days mostly suck but you have to admit that it's no longer as easy as it used to be to see the CGI-ness on screen. – slebetman Jul 30 '15 at 3:03

The answer is quite boring: Tolkien didn’t like the idea.

Peter Jackson, who directly a slightly better-known film adaptation, met Paul McCartney at the Academy Awards in 2002, where he learnt about these plans. He gave a comment to a New Zealand paper:

Jackson, whose own version of the first book in the fantasy trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring won four Oscars this week, told the newspaper that the Beatles plan fell flat when author J.R.R. Tolkien rejected the plan. […]

“[The film] was something John was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage but he didn't like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it,” Jackson told the newspaper.

Matthew Schmitz has an article at First Things has written a bit more about the plans, and has a plausible guess for why Tolkien felt animosity towards the Beatles:

In a 1964 letter to Christopher Bretherton, Tolkien complained about “radio, tele, dogs, scooters, buzzbikes, and cars of all sizes but the smallest” making noise “from early morn to about 2 a.m.”

“In addition,” Tolkien wrote, “in a house three doors away dwells a member of a group of young men who are evidently aiming to turn themselves into a Beatle Group. On days when it falls to his turn to have a practice session the noise is indescribable.”

  • [snip] Comments are for improvements to the questions, not general chat. – Valorum Jul 26 '15 at 17:49

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