The Beatles nearly made The Lord of the Rings, with John Lennon as Gollum

sgt peppers dolby atmos the beatles wax  berlin
360b / Shutterstock.com

The Beatles nearly had a second career as leading actors in The Lord of the Rings. For the 50th anniversary of Help!Variety looked back at what the Fab Four’s film career could have been. Just before Help!‘s debut (and a year after 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night), the producer of the two films, Walter Shenson, told Variety that the “boys” wanted their third film to be “different.” The band had lots of ideas for what the third film — under their three-contract film with United Artists — could be, but the most bizarre was a John, Paul, George and Ringo-starring The Lord of the Rings film.

“The Beatles once approached Stanley Kubrick to do The Lord of the Rings,” explained director/producer Peter Jackson to Deadline last year. “This was before Tolkien sold the rights. They approached him and he said no. I actually spoke about this with Paul McCartney. He confirmed it. I’d heard rumors that it was going to be their next film after Help. John Lennon was going to play Gollum. Paul was going to play Frodo. George Harrison was going to play Gandalf, and Ringo Starr was going to play Sam.”

J.R.R. Tolkien himself also turned down the idea, according to Variety, although he was seemingly more annoyed about their loud practice sessions. “In a house three doors away dwells a member of a group of young men who are evidently aiming to turn themselves into a Beatle Group,” wrote Tolkien in a letter. “On days when it falls to his turn to have a practice session the noise is indescribable.”

While the seemingly absurd idea did quickly fizzle, the Beatles did have film success when they proposed the idea prior to the launch of Help!. Hard Day’s Night outshined expectations, earning two Oscar nominations, and providing the basis for United Artists to give the quartet a bigger budget for Help!. They ended up getting a budget of $1.5 million for the film, a comedy adventure about the band members facing off against an evil cult. The film was in color and was shot in Austria and the Bahamas, according to Variety. It didn’t end up having the same critical and commercial success as their first, though.

The Beatles did finally make a third film, the 1970 documentary Let It Be. In between, the Beatles recorded some of the most long-lasting ’60s records: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be. We can only wonder what would’ve happened if, instead, the quartet starred in The Lord of the Rings.

Movies & TV

11 Hollywood heavyweights who jumped from the big screen to the small screen

From Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep to James Franco and Mahershala Ali, lots of Hollywood A-list actors with successful film careers are flocking to television projects during the second Golden Age of Television.
Gaming

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (March 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

SoundCloud hopes to add listeners with 50 percent discount for students

SoundCloud launched a student discount for it's top-tier SoundCloud Go+ membership, dropping the price to just $5 a month. It's a good deal for students, but will it be enough to keep the music platform from going under?
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Home Theater

iPhone owners can finally hear the highest-quality streaming music on Tidal

If you're an iPhone owner who is after the highest possible audio quality from your streaming library, you now have the best option out there: Tidal's Masters Quality Audio (MQA) is now available on iOS.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.
Music

Apple Music offers a few subscription options. We break them down here

Competition for music streaming apps is quickly dwindling with giants like Apple Music and Spotify dominating most of the market? But how much does Apple Music cost and what does a subscription to the music-streaming platform entail?
Home Theater

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you now get Hulu for free

Spotify Premium subscribers have yet another reason to love the Swedish streaming service, with the company now offering ad-free Hulu accounts to all premium users at no additional cost.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Apple Music completes its Amazon migration, is now available on Fire TV

Amazon's popular Fire TV devices are now compatible with the most popular on-demand music streaming service in the United States, thanks to a new integration with Apple Music that has finally hit Fire TV devices.
Emerging Tech

This streaming music service pays artists in Bitcoin, plants trees if you listen

Feedbands is an environmentally friendly subscription streaming music service that pays its artists in Bitcoin, and plants trees in exchange for authenticated listens from customers.