The popular romcom Yesterday, released in 2019, originally had a much more pessimistic take on the fame of The Beatles (via Screenrant).
After Jack Barth sold his original script, the story of a man who wakes up one day and finds he is the last person that remembers The Beatles, filmmaker Richard Curtis and director Danny Boyle adapted it into a lighthearted romantic comedy with acceptable (albeit limited) audience response and acknowledgement of the clever and intriguing plot.
Apparently, Barth’s original idea was a lot more of a bleak view on fame. His script was about how an unsuccessful singer-songwriter plays the seemingly never-heard-before music of The Beatles, but mostly explored the realisation that the once-idolised songs weren’t bringing him the fame that The Beatles cultivated.
“I wrote it from my point of view, which was, I was lying in bed one night thinking, if Star Wars hadn’t been made and I just came up with the idea for Star Wars, I bet I wouldn’t be able to sell it. Carry that on to the Beatles, if I knew all the Beatles songs, I bet I couldn’t be successful with it.”Screenwriter Jack Barth on the original script for ‘YESTERDAY’ (via Uproxx)
This interesting idea clearly showcases what enticed Curtis to buy the rights to the script, but he clearly believed that the story was better off suited with a different message, and one that would appeal to a wider audience while keeping the core idea intact. The two stories do have elements of similarity, such as the love interest called Ella, a school teacher like Ellie in Yesterday, and both include a philosophical conversation with a certain John Lennon. Despite this, Barth only received a ‘story by’ credit as Curtis supposedly never read the script.
Despite this more widely appealing adaptation, the idea behind this movie was just perhaps a little too lifelike, and a little too poignant for a simple, yet shrewd romcom. The middling critic reviews, and under-explored central idea led to just an average box office performance. For who, instead of talented and impressive role-models, wants to see their heroes as a simple product of some lucky circumstance? Better, maybe, to just watch a romcom, something that this movie is just a little too clever to be portrayed as.