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Top director to shoot biopic about Beatles manager Brian Epstein | Film


An award-winning director, who has worked with Paul McCartney on music videos, is to direct a major British film about Brian Epstein, the visionary manager and impresario who took the music industry by storm in discovering stars from the Beatles to Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The film, titled Midas Man, will be directed by Jonas Åkerlund, who has won multiple Grammy awards.

It will tell the story of a Liverpudlian record-shop manager with a talent for forecasting hits and spotting future stars. Epstein signed the biggest band of all time, the Beatles, and discovered Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer, opening his own theatre to promote and launch the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Who. His impact on popular music and culture resounds to this day.

The film’s producer, Trevor Beattie, told the Guardian: “Epstein’s one of the most extraordinary men of the 20th century. His story hasn’t been told properly. He’s often taken for granted by the wider world, but he was ahead of his time from his vision of music and popular culture through to gender identity. He was gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He lived a secret life. He made some risky decisions in handling the business of his stars … Compared with what Brian had to live in his life, [they were] not a risk.”

Epstein’s achievements are all the more extraordinary because he died aged just 32, in 1967, following a barbiturate overdose.

Brian Epstein with the Beatles in 1965 when they received MBEs at Buckingham Palace

Brian Epstein with the Beatles in 1965 when they received MBEs at Buckingham Palace. Photograph: Cummings Archives/Redferns

Beattie said: “Epstein first met the Beatles in November 1961, when he was 25, and he was dead in August 1967. It is a tragic story. But it’s also life-affirming, a triumph for the human spirit because, in those few short years, he changed popular culture forever.”

His previous productions include the Bafta-winning Moon, starring Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell, and the acclaimed feature documentary, Nureyev.

For almost two years, he has been researching Epstein, talking to people who knew him, including Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers: “He told me stories that haven’t been printed yet and that we’ll introduce into our film.”

Some relate to artists that Epstein encountered at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, where Cilla Black was a hat-check girl: “Gerry said that Cilla would run up on the stage between Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Beatles and that she saw herself as a rocker. Brian said, ‘no, you’re a balladeer’. He changed the angle on her.”

He said of the Beatles: “It all started in 1961 at the Cavern. Brian saw four scruffy lads in leather jackets, drinking, smoking and swearing on stage. What’s fascinating is that, when he discovered them, there were no [John] Lennon/McCartney songs. They were singing Chuck Berry and Little Richard songs. Brian saw their potential. Today, we would say ‘he packaged them’. He put them in suits and turned their scruffiness into that Beatles look, with the mop-top haircut.”

Previous attempts to make an Epstein film have failed to get off the ground. But this production is collaborating with Liverpool, where much of it will be filmed, and it has received the boost of a multi-million-pound investment from China, where the Beatles and the 1960s look, sound and style remain hugely popular. Casting has begun and Midas Man will be released in cinemas next year.


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