Hulu to launch documentary division with fully licensed Beatles project

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Hulu is checking into the documentary film production game with a heavy hitter, launching its new Hulu Documentary Films division with a Beatles film from famed director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Arrested Development).

The new doc, tentatively titled The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, will hit the streaming service this fall, and will be the first documentary to debut online exclusively on Hulu in the United States — though it will be shown in theaters before it can be seen online.

The new project is a good get for Hulu, as it is a fully licensed Beatles tell-all; The movie was produced with the full cooperation of the two living ex-Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as the widows of deceased Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.

Eight Days A Week will center on the early part of the band’s career in music, spanning years 1962-1966, when The Beatles still played shows live. The focus of the film will be on the inner workings of the band, taking a deep look at how the quartet made musical decisions, recorded, and partnered to create a massively successful musical career.

If this project proves successful, it could be the first of many licensed documentary films from Hulu Documentary Films, which was likely created to battle the exclusive non-fiction content available on rival services like Netflix and Amazon.

Interestingly, Hulu didn’t buy the total rights to the film — a move which is employed often by Netflix for its licensing purchases, and which would have allowed Hulu to premiere the film worldwide as well as keep it from movie theaters.

The lack of total exclusivity could be for several reasons. Either the streaming service didn’t have the (presumably massive) amount of cash it would take to buy out all the rights to a Ron Howard-made Beatles documentary, or executives didn’t think it was actually worth the money to do so.

After all, a good documentary about the Beatles will likely be viewed by generations to come — at which point it won’t matter if fans were able to see it at a theater first.

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