John Lennon fans will have to settle for just "A Day in the Life" for now.
The world premiere of Three Days in the Life, comprising two hours of previously unseen footage of the late Beatles icon, was canceled Tuesday after Yoko Ono's lawyers warned the film's producers that she hadn't authorized the project for public viewing.
The film was scheduled to screen at Berwick Academy, a private school in southern Maine. The stepson of Three Days in the Life's executive director, Ray Thomas, is a student there.
According to her legal camp, Lennon's widow has a copyright interest in the film and even free screenings—such as the one set to occur at Berwick—are verboten without her permission. Thomas and business partner John Fallon had planned on a series of free screenings at high schools and colleges.
"Mrs. Lennon owns all rights, title and copyrights in and to all film, outtakes and videotapes embodying the images of the late John Lennon and herself as filmed by Anthony Cox in 1970," attorney Dorothy Weber wrote in a letter to Berwick's head of school Richard Ridgway, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Cox, Ono's first husband, shot 10 hours of black-and-white footage in February 1970, just months before the Beatles called it quits. He then sold his tapes in 2000 for an undisclosed amount to World Wide Video LLC, which whittled the film down to two hours.
Three Days in the Life includes footage of Lennon tooling around with "Mind Games" on the guitar while sitting on the edge of his bed, Yoko sleeping behind him; walking the grounds of his U.K. estate; being interviewed by Ono's daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, in the back of a limo; and doing a sound check before performing "Instant Carma" on TV.
All of which students across the country will have to just imagine for the time being.
Berwick Academy spokeswoman Shanlee Ginchereau said in a statement that, until Tuesday, the school had been under the impression that World Wide Video owned the rights to the film.
"Given the apparent dispute over ownership rights in the film, Berwick Academy has decided not to show the film as previously scheduled until the parties resolve the underlying ownership dispute. Berwick Academy hopes the parties are able to resolve this matter quickly and looks forward to the opportunity to show this unique piece of music history."
Perhaps Ono just wants more say in the matter and will eventually give this picture a chance. Much of the footage from last year's politically charged documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, was compiled from Ono's own archives.
Ono also took issue with the latest work of fiction concerning her husband, but the way things are going she may not have to have to worry about American audiences getting too familiar with it.
Chapter 27, starring Jared Leto as Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but has not yet found a U.S. distributor, although it is headed for European, Asian and South American theaters.
Of course, it's not its depiction of Lennon that has Ono concerned.
''This is another thing which will hurt me, I'm sure," she told the Australian newspaper last summer. "I would rather not make a story out of Mr. Chapman at all, although I sympathize with the actors. They need to work. It's not just films, you're always talking about it [Lennon's murder].
"Every day, every week, is an anniversary for me. There is not one time that John is not around me, or my memory of John is not there. It has been 25 years, but it has passed so fast.''
At press time, 2,550 people have signed an online petition opposing Chapter 27.
"What is the name of the person who killed John Lennon? Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono made a simple request to John Lennon's fans. Never repeat the name of his killer. Doing so would only give his killer the fame and notoriety he was seeking," reads a statement on the petition Website.
"When John and I were doing things, a lot of people just didn't think about it," Ono told Entertainment Weekly last month. "Maybe we planted a seed; there are so many people, each doing it in his own way."
On the thousands of people ready to boycott Chapter 27: "It's very sweet of them. John would have thought so, too."