Even though it’s approaching 30 years since his untimely death, John Lennon remains a hot topic for filmmakers – some more than others. While Authorized Pictures had success last year with its The US vs. John Lennon, other filmmakers have not been as lucky negotiating the complex rights waters surrounding the former Beatle.
Case in point: Ray Thomas and John Fallon’s recent attempt to screen their film Three Days in the Life, a vérité project that reportedly shows Lennon composing, rehearsing and discussing intimate topics such as drug addiction. With Yoko Ono, the singer’s widow and holder of many of her late husband’s rights, refusing to sign off on screenings, the filmmakers decided on free shows at educational institutions instead, with the premiere scheduled to take place at Maine’s Berwick Academy in March. Ono’s lawyers put a stop to that, however, suggesting to the school that, regardless of other rights issues involved, the filmmakers did not own the copyright to some of the footage in the film. Rather than jump into the eye of what would likely become a legal hurricane, the Academy cancelled the screening, and instead issued a statement: ‘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.’ Indeed.