The Movie Made For Its Soundtrack
Usually, soundtracks are made in support of movies. They can be promotional tools or a source of added revenue aimed at fans who enjoy the songs of a particular flick. However, in 1964, Richard Lester and United Artists went to the trouble of directing a movie solely so they could make a soundtrack.
At the time, The Beatles were emerging as an epic phenomenon, and they were locked into a tight contract with EMI for albums, singles, and EPs. For obvious reasons, all other record companies were devising plans to sign the group to their company, but one industrious employee at United Artists Records was clever enough to recognize a loophole in their contract: they weren’t exclusive to EMI for movie soundtracks.
Because of its origin, the movie could have been a throwaway project, a meaningless bit of fluff that would have served solely to deliver a Beatles record for United Artists to profit from. They didn’t put much money into it, but the resulting film became an iconic flick because of its stars and because of its angle on mockumentary style.
United Artists wanted it cheap and fast, but studio head David Picker also wanted it as a good as possible, and the band certainly didn’t want to be part of something lacking in quality. Thus, an 87-minute story told purely to sell a slab of vinyl was crafted with the Beatles’ hip sensibilities and became a hit on its own.