There have been a number of films about The Beatles throughout the years but never one solely based on the life of the man who discovered the band – until now. The New York Times reports that there is not one but two biopics in the works about Brian Epstein, the Fab Four’s most significant manager and the man who’s been deemed “the fifth Beatle.”
Epstein managed The Beatles up until his overdose-related death in 1967, first signing them to a management contract after seeing them perform at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1961. He not only helped finance their demos and secure them a recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label, but his personal fashion sense inspired the band’s own signature suit look. He had no artist management experience before working with The Beatles, having managed his family’s Liverpool music shop NEMS (North End Music Stores). After Beatles success, Epstein managed other Merseybeat acts like Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer. His homosexuality was not widely known until years after his death, but it was common knowledge amongst The Beatles and his inner circle.
The man set to portray Epstein in one of the films is Benedict Cumberbatch, the British actor who’s portrayed Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Hawking for BBC and will be seen in upcoming Star Trek and The Hobbit films, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Tom Hanks and Playtone company will produce the currently-untitled project, with Sherlock director Paul McGuigan and screenwriter Todd Graff on board as well.
The producers describe the film as “the man who threw the biggest party of the 1960s but ultimately forgot to invite himself.” It will be focused on Epstein’s life and career, not The Beatles’ as seen through his eyes.
The second of the Epstein biopics is fittingly titled The Fifth Beatle and is based on the forthcoming graphic novel by Vivek J. Tiwary (set for release next year). No casting decisions have been announced, but the film has secured the rights to use Beatles songs in the films.
- Jillian Mapes, CBS Local; photos by Getty Images