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New Ron Howard-directed Beatles documentary highlights the band's formative years

New Ron Howard-directed Beatles documentary highlights the band's formative years
The Beatles face the media at JFK Airport after their arrival in America on Feb. 7, 1964. The band's early years will be the focus of a forthcoming Ron Howard-directed documentary called "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - the Touring Years." (CHARLES TASNADI / AP)

Before the fan mania and Yoko Ono, the Beatles were a simply a Liverpool, England, rock band on the cusp of stardom. The band's ascent, and why the Beatles remain relevant today, will now be documented in "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years."

The project, directed by Ron Howard and produced by Imagine Entertainment, White Horse Pictures and Apple Corps Ltd., will explore four years in the life of the band before it stopped touring in 1966. The documentary will see a theatrical release on Sept. 16, followed a day later by an exclusive on-demand streaming deal through Hulu.

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The film's tight focus promises insight into the Beatles' early years, beginning with the period after they'd returned from an extended stint in Hamburg, Germany. A relentless performing schedule transformed a ragtag bunch of teens into a well-honed rock 'n' roll machine. Upon returning, the band set up camp at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and started touring.

Over the four years represented in the film, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr revolutionized popular music.

After their first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964, the band fomented that revolution by touring relentlessly. Over those two-plus years, they performed 166 concerts in 90 cities around the world.

For the project, producers scoured the globe for fan-made home-movies and photographs to augment the many hours of available interview, performance and behind-the-scenes footage.

The film's bookend is the band's last official concert. Citing an inability to replicate in a concert setting its increasingly complicated music, the Beatles performed their last scheduled gig a little more than two years later, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in August 1966.

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