Shea Stadium film in trouble?

Still from the Shea Stadium film

According to a news item from Reuters, Apple Corps Ltd was accused in a lawsuit on Monday of infringing copyrights of a company claiming to own a master recording of the group’s 1965 concert in New York’s Shea Stadium. Sid Bernstein Presents LLC sued before this week’s scheduled release in theaters and on Hulu of “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years,” which is supported in cinemas by a reedited, remastered and remixed version of the 1966 TV-film “The Beatles at Shea Stadium“, an edit which focuses on just the Beatles concert itself. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Here’s a link to the Reuters report.

To us, it looks like the heirs of Sid Bernstein are looking to try and make some bucks off the Shea Stadium film. It was Subafilms (The Beatles’ and Brian Epstein’s company) with Ed Sullivan Productions who filmed the concert, and I’m sure their paperwork is in order. The Beatles at Shea Stadium was televised in 1966 in the U.K. and in 1967 in U.S.A. Since then, it has been reprised and shown in other countries as well. It was last televised in the U.K. by BBC in 1979.

Bernstein himself was a popular man among Beatles fans, and he used to attend Beatles conventions. He seemed to be proud of the concerts he helped arrange, and never sought any legal action, as far as we know. Sid Bernstein died in 2013. The plaintiff, Sid Bernstein Presents LLC claims to have been assigned Bernstein’s rights, and in their statement they say that Brian Epstein took custody of the so-called “Master Tapes” and began using them without seeking consent.

The company Sid Bernstein Presents LLC said it sued after the U.S. Copyright Office refused to register its copyright claim, and after learning that Apple planned to release a remastered version of the Beatles’ performance with the “Eight Days a Week” documentary.

As far as this blog knows, the re-edited Shea Stadium concert film is only to be used in cinemas, it will not be screened as part of the Hulu deal, and there are no plans of issuing the film as bonus material when “Eight Days A Week The Touring Years” is being released on home video in November. We hope that it isn’t legal obstacles who is in the way of releasing the Shea Stadium film for a wider audience, but rather that Apple Corps Ltd aren’t interested in sharing profits of the film with the other production companies involved with Howard’s film.

In other news, Ron Howard told British newspaper The Times that he was so taken with the subject he’d love to make another film about the history of the Fab Four. “I found this (making Eight Days A Week) to be so fascinating that I’d be very open to that,” Howard said.

Facebook ad for the Q & A session.

Tomorrow Wednesday, Paul and Ringo are due to hold a Q&A session together with Ron Howard at Abbey Road Studios in London. The three are answering questions submitted by fans. A bit of posing on the zebra crossing wouldn’t hurt!

8 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    "Master Tapes" – could that mean the WHOLE un-edited concert footage and audio with the two missing songs (She's a Woman & Everybody's Trying to be my Baby) with no voice overs (A Hard Day's Night) and studio versions (Act Naturally) or just the standard edited version which one comes to expect after all these years???

  2. wogew says:

    Well Eric, the phrase "Master tapes" sounds suspicious in the first place, because the concert was filmed by numerous cameras using 35mm film, so that's no tape. It was edited by Sullivan Productions, and the finished film was then shipped to Brian Epstein in England. At the time, one of the missing tracks was part of the film, but not the other one (they were all changing film rolls during that song). The other song was then edited out of the film to bring the TV special down to 50 minutes for television. Paul McCartney is said to have purchased a copy of the film as it was before it was sent to England, but it seems not to have been used for the upcoming edition of the film.

  3. davejohn1313 says:

    Sid Bernstein was the promoter. As a promoter he has no rights to any concert films.

  4. Tammy says:

    This whole Shea thing has me baffled. Surely Apple knows that by sending it out to multiple theaters in 4K it's a prime candidate to be bootlegged?. I'm not sure how theaters work now, are films downloaded by the theater, or are they sent by Blu Ray disc?, thumb drive?. Whatever way, it just seems silly of Apple to throw this out there, and not use it as a bonus on the upcoming DVD/Blu Ray.

    Ps/ If anyone knows someone who works in a cinema, now might be the time to reacquaint your friendship with them. 🙂

  5. Unknown says:

    Hey Roger. That 'missing a song because they all had to change film rolls' sounds very made up to me. Any professional film company covering a live appearance on film would be mindful of this possibility – and have a few of the cameras set to start on a different time frame as a contingency to cover the entire concert. If that's a story that someone official told at some stage – I'm not buying it…I've not doubt that the 'rushes/negatives' are just not available and are mislaid, lost or dumped. If they had been available – things like the 'optical close ups' done of Paul and John singing together would have been restored to their original frame size by now…

  6. Unknown says:

    Maybe Ringo was the one that took an unedited copy – being the group's 'archivist' – and it was lost in his fire…?

  7. Martin says:

    Is this the same Sidney Bernstein who was a pioneer at Granada Television, or a totally different person?

    As for another 'Beatles History' film, surely Anthology covers it?
    And fans (still) want 'Let It Be' and are still waiting….

    I'd love Howard to do a Kinks film, myself….

  8. Rick says:

    Just don’t let Disney+ get their grubby mitts on it.

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