Yesterday (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny Boyle|
|Screenplay by||Richard Curtis|
|Music by||Daniel Pemberton|
|Edited by||Jon Harris|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$153 million|
Yesterday is a 2019 romantic comedy film directed by Danny Boyle and screenplay by Richard Curtis, based on a story by Jack Barth and Curtis. Himesh Patel stars as struggling musician Jack Malik, who, after an accident, finds himself the only person who remembers the Beatles and becomes famous after taking credit for their songs. The film also stars Lily James as the protagonist's childhood friend and love interest, Kate McKinnon as his manager, and Ed Sheeran as himself.
Yesterday was announced in March 2018. Filming began the following month around England, particularly Norfolk and Halesworth in Suffolk. Photography also took place at Wembley Stadium, Principality Stadium and in Los Angeles. The filmmakers paid $10 million for the rights to use the Beatles' music; although none of the band members were involved, Boyle received approval for the project from them and their families.
Yesterday had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 4 May 2019, and was released in the United Kingdom and the United States on 28 June 2019, by Universal Pictures. The film grossed $152 million worldwide against a production budget of $26 million. It received mixed reviews, with praise for the premise, performances, and musical sequences, but criticism of the familiarity and not taking the concept further.
Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter from Lowestoft who plays gigs to tiny crowds. His manager and childhood friend Ellie Appleton encourages him not to give up on his dreams. During a global blackout, Jack is hit by a bus. After recovering, he sings the Beatles song "Yesterday" for his friends, and discovers they have never heard of the Beatles. After realising no one in the world remembers them, Jack begins performing Beatles songs, passing them off as his own.
Ellie has Jack record a demo with Gavin, a local music producer. Following a performance on local television, Jack is invited by pop star Ed Sheeran to play as his opening act in Moscow. Ellie declines to join him, saying she must work at her day job as a schoolteacher, so Jack's roadie friend Rocky travels with him instead. After the gig, Sheeran challenges Jack to a songwriting duel, which he loses to Jack's "The Long and Winding Road". In Los Angeles, Sheeran's ruthless manager Debra Hammer signs Jack to her label and engineers his rise to global fame.
At Jack's going-away party before his permanent move to L.A., Ellie confesses that she has always been in love with him. Jack starts recording an album at EastWest Studios, but cannot remember the lyrics for "Eleanor Rigby." Hoping to trigger memories, Jack goes to the Beatles' hometown of Liverpool, visiting landmarks such as Strawberry Field, Penny Lane, and the grave of Eleanor Rigby. Ellie joins him in Liverpool, and they spend a drunken evening and kiss, but Ellie tells Jack she is not interested in a one-night stand. The next morning, Jack and Rocky pursue Ellie to the train station, where she congratulates Jack but tells him she cannot be a part of his celebrity life. Jack returns to Los Angeles heartbroken and desperate to have a normal life again, while Ellie begins dating Gavin.
The record label prepares to launch Jack's debut album, One Man Only. Jack persuades them to launch the album with a rooftop concert in Gorleston-on-Sea. Two fans approach him backstage and tell him they know he didn't write the songs, but thank him, having feared the Beatles' music was gone forever. They give him the address of John Lennon, who has survived into old age out of the public spotlight. John, who has lived a happy life with his wife, advises Jack to pursue the one he loves and always tell the truth.
Jack calls in a favour with Sheeran, who arranges for him to perform at Wembley Stadium. Jack confesses to the crowd that he plagiarised the music and that he loves Ellie, and has Rocky upload the songs free to the internet, sabotaging the record release and enraging Debra. Jack and Ellie marry and start a family, and Jack gives up stardom to become a music teacher.
- Himesh Patel as Jack Malik
- Lily James as Ellie Appleton
- Joel Fry as Rocky
- Ed Sheeran as himself
- Kate McKinnon as Debra Hammer
- Sanjeev Bhaskar as Jed Malik
- Meera Syal as Shelia Malik
- Harry Michell as Nick
- Sophia Di Martino as Carol
- Sarah Lancashire as Liz, a Liverpool woman who also remembers the Beatles
- Justin Edwards as Leo, a Russian man who remembers the Beatles
- Alexander Arnold as Gavin
- Lamorne Morris as Head of Marketing
Yesterday began as a 2012 screenplay, Cover Version, by Jack Barth. Barth had been struggling to sell screenplays for decades, and conceived the story when it occurred to him that "if Star Wars hadn't been made and I just came up with the idea for Star Wars, I bet I wouldn't be able to sell it". In Barth's script, a "meditation on professional disappointment", Jack did not find success with the Beatles songs.
An early version of the screenplay was worked on by Mackenzie Crook, who intended to direct; Crook left to work on his television series Detectorists. The script was passed to the production company Working Title. Years later, while working on clearance rights for the Beatles songs, a Working Title producer mentioned the screenplay to filmmaker Richard Curtis, who decided to buy it and rewrite it as a romantic comedy.
According to several interviews, Curtis did not read Barth's script, preferring to use the premise to write his own version; he told Den of Geek: "I had the one-sentence then said I don't want any more information because I sometimes found when I worked with original material that it doesn't come from the heart. So I tried to write a whole film that meant something to me, rather than having too much extra information." However, according to Barth, the final film includes many elements of his screenplay, including John Lennon as a wizened fisherman and the final Harry Potter joke. Curtis credited the joke to a suggestion from Sarah Silverman, who is thanked in the credits.
Barth complained that Curtis had taken sole credit for the screenplay and damaged him financially. He felt that Curtis had changed the story to make Jack a successful songwriter as a reflection of his own career: "He met Rowan Atkinson at Oxford, he came out of Oxford and immediately rode Rowan Atkinson to huge success in his early twenties, he's never been knocked out, as far as I know. Why wouldn't this guy become the most successful songwriter in the world?”
In March 2018, it was announced that Curtis and director Danny Boyle were working on a musical comedy set in the 1960s or 1970s following "a struggling musician who thinks he's the only person who can remember the Beatles", with Himesh Patel cast in the lead role. Boyle convinced Patel was the right choice after listening to him perform the Beatles songs "Yesterday" and "Back in the U.S.S.R." during auditions. Boyle felt that Patel's voice had soul. Patel sang and performed guitar and piano himself. Ed Sheeran's supporting role was originally intended for Coldplay singer Chris Martin, who turned it down.
Later in March 2018, Lily James and Kate McKinnon joined the cast. Boyle informed the surviving members and widows of the Beatles about the film and received a reply he described as "lovely" from Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. In April 2018, it was revealed that Ed Sheeran had joined the cast and would potentially also write new music for the film, which would also include Beatles songs. Later that month, Ana de Armas and Lamorne Morris had also joined the cast. In May 2018, Sophia Di Martino, Joel Fry and Harry Michell joined.
Filming began on 21 April 2018, with production in the United Kingdom starting on 26 April 2018, with scenes filmed all around Suffolk in Cantley, Halesworth, Dunwich, Shingle Street, Latitude Festival and Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. A casting call was issued for extras in overnight scenes shot immediately after Sheeran's four consecutive concerts at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales in May 2018. A further 5,000 extras appeared in scenes at Gorleston-on-Sea Beach in Norfolk in June 2018. Wembley Stadium was also used to film a concert scene. Filming also took place in Liverpool, making use of Penny Lane, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Lime Street Station and the Queensway Tunnel.
In February 2019, it was announced that the title of the film was Yesterday. It is estimated to have cost around $10 million to get the rights for the Beatles' songs to be featured in the film, with the rights to their music being held by Apple Records and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Scenes with de Armas, who played another love interest for Jack, were cut as test audiences felt it made Jack less sympathetic.
Yesterday was initially set for a September 2019 release, but was moved up to 28 June 2019, largely as a result of a copyright suit filed by Paul McCartney. The rights to some of the earlier Beatles songs used in the film would revert to McCartney in the autumn of 2019, and Sony Music wanted to get ahead of it.
The first official trailer of the film was released on 12 February 2019. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 4 May 2019. A local screening of the film took place at the Gorleston Palace cinema on 21 June 2019. Universal spent $75.4 million promoting the film worldwide.
Yesterday grossed $73.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $80.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $153.7 million, against a production budget of $26 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross $10–15 million from 2,603 theatres in its opening weekend. The film made $6.1 million on its first day, including $1.25 million from Thursday night previews. The opening day audiences were mostly aged over 25 (75%), female (56%), and Caucasian (65%). It ended up slightly exceeding projections and debuting to $17 million, finishing third behind Toy Story 4 and Annabelle Comes Home. In its second weekend the film made $10.7 million, again finishing in third (behind Spider-Man: Far From Home and Toy Story 4), then grossed $6.8 million in its third weekend, falling to fifth.
In other territories, the film opened to $7.8 million, including $2.8 million in the United Kingdom (where it finished second behind Toy Story 4) and $2.5 million in Australia. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $45 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues. However, Universal officially took an $87.8 million loss on the film, which Deadline deduced would eventually result in a $26.5 million profit after TV and video sales were taken into account.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 341 reviews, with an average rating of 6.33/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Yesterday may fall short of fab, but the end result is still a sweetly charming fantasy with an intriguing—albeit somewhat under-explored—premise." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an 87% overall positive score, with 63% saying they would definitely recommend it.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film four out of five stars, writing "although this film can be a bit hokey and uncertain on narrative development, the puppyish zest and fun summoned up by Curtis and Boyle carry it along." Robbie Collin also responded positively in his review for The Daily Telegraph, saying the film "rallies in style for a beautifully judged and surprisingly moving finale, which owes a lot to Patel and James's chemistry." Owen Gleiberman of Variety, meanwhile, was less enthusiastic, claiming the film had little soul and calling it a "rom-com wallpapered with the Beatles' greatness." Laura Snapes of The Guardian called Yesterday "the latest jukebox movie to put its women on mute."
As of May 2020[update], it has been estimated that the film will have generated $68 million in global television revenue, in addition to $10.4 million in net revenue for home video and streaming. This adds up to a total estimated home media revenue of $78.4 million.
The film drew comparisons to several other works dealing with a similar premise or theme. Similarities can be found in the 2011 French graphic novel Yesterday by David Blot and Jérémie Royer, the 2011 Japanese manga I'm a Beatle (僕はビートルズ, Boku wa Bītoruzu) by Tetsuo Fujii and Kaiji Kawaguchi, the 1990s British sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart, the 2006 French film Jean-Philippe, and the 2013 novel Enormity by Nick Milligan. In July 2019, Danny Boyle said he was not aware of any earlier works that had a similar premise when he read the script, but that he had only recently become aware of a French film and British sitcom with a similar premise. Yesterday also drew comparisons to Blinded by the Light (2019), a British comedy-drama produced around the same time about an aspiring writer inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen.
- Isekai, a Japanese fantasy subgenre where a normal person gets transported to another world.
- Mandela effect
- Parallel universes in fiction
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