While the movie has been repackaged several times since the rights reverted to producer Walter Shenson in 1979, this reissue may be the canniest repackaging yet, as Miramax marketing meets Beatlemania.
"A Hard Day's Night is one of the greatest rock 'n' roll movies of all time," says Miramax cochair Harvey Weinstein, who must also know it was one of the greatest rock 'n' roll albums of all time. Director Richard Lester's 1964 showcase for the Fab Four's dry wit and musical energy was a winning mix, with the low-budget black-and-white effort not only becoming a massive financial success and one of the few rock flicks to reach a truly wide audience in its theatrical release, but also the inspiration for many rock movies and documentaries since.
The new edition, digitally remastered with six-track stereo sound, will include behind-the-scenes footage that was shot during production. Not only did the anarchic romp spur much of today's MTV-esque knockoffs, the footage also reveals the Beatles as the originators of the electronic press kit, an omnipresent source of promotion for movies today. (An "EPK" contains sound bites and clips recorded expressly for the news media.)
"They're not outtakes--it shows the Beatles fooling around with the wardrobe people, that sort of thing," producer Walter Shenson says of the new footage in Daily Variety. (The footage will probably appear at the end of the movie.)
After United Artists' original release of the $500,000 movie, A Hard Day's Night garnered two Academy Award nominations, for screenwriter Alun Owen and music director George Martin. UA's rights to the film, which still pays royalties to the surviving Beatles, have been exploited by Shenson over the past two decades. Earlier this year, Shenson called Weinstein and offered him a distribution license for Night for a limited time, and the deal was cut in February at the American Film Market.
"There are a tremendous number of young people who have never seen the film," Shenson says. "I show it sometimes to film students, and maybe six out of 100 have seen it before. I ask them if it seems dated, and they say, 'No, it's just British.' "
Miramax also expressed interest in the Beatles lesser regarded 1965 follow-up, Help!, but the shrewd Shenson said let it be. "Let's see how this one does first."