Michael Winterbottom to Direct Beatles Biopic ‘The Longest Cocktail Party’

Film fans already got a glimpse at the early days of The Beatles’ career with 1994’s Backbeat, a dramatization of their days working the club scene in Hamburg. Now there’s a new film in the works that is going to tell the story of their last days together as a band. Richard DiLello worked as a gofer for The Beatles’ late-career recording company, Apple Records, between 1968 and 1970, and his written account of his time there The Longest Cocktail Party is going to serve as the source material for the new film. During his time working at Apple, DiLello established personal relationships with each member of The Beatles, as well as their closest friends and family, and his book is told from his own perspective, watching this huge world crumble with outside eyes.

The film version of The Longest Cocktail Party is being produced by a team consisting of Michael Winterbottom, Oasis’ Liam Gallagher, and Winterbottom’s longtime producing partner Andrew Eaton. The screenplay is being adapted by Four Lions writer Jesse Armstrong, and Winterbottom himself intends on directing. That makes perfect sense, as he already has experience directing a film called 24 Hour Party People, so The Longest Cocktail Party shouldn’t be much of a stretch.

The biggest hurdles in the way of getting a film like this together are going to be affording the rights to enough of The Beatles’ catalogue to put together an appropriate soundtrack and finding the right actors to bring the iconic quartet to life. About the music, Eaton told The Playlist, “That’s the minefield. You’d think it would be the perfect time, because Apple are reinventing their brand, they did the iTunes deal, they did ‘Guitar Hero.’ So they are changing. But because they’re doing that, they’re more aware of their image than they’ve ever been. We’re doing a bit of a dance at the moment, we haven’t really found a way to make it work.”

I think they should have plenty of time to try and make things work, because the casting process won’t be difficult. Jake Kasdan already cast the perfect Beatles for Walk Hard, so all Winterbottom and company have to do is get Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman to reprise their roles. If you don’t pick the perfect actors to play these musicians who are so ingrained in our collective psyche, then making a movie about them could come off like some sort of stupid parody. Those guys knocked it out of the park already; when they get together, it’s like you’re looking at The Beatles. Eerie.

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