John Lennon’s last directing project is finally coming to theaters, almost 38 years after the Beatles co-founder’s death. In December 1972, American television audiences got their first look at “Imagine,” the autobiographical film he and wife Yoko Ono made in England and New York City. Eagle Rock Entertainment will bring a restored and remastered version to cinemas next month, featuring 15 minutes of previously-unaired material, including performance footage from the couple’s Plastic Ono Band.
“Imagine” shares its name with both Lennon’s 1971 solo album and its title track, ranked third on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs. Decades later, in 2016, the National Music Publishers Association awarded Ono a songwriting credit on the pacifist anthem. Now 85 years old, Ono lent her voice to Wes Anderson’s 2019 Best Animated Feature Oscar hopeful, “Isle of Dogs,” and will release her next album, “Warzone,” in October. “Warzone” includes a track that covers “Imagine.”
Months before music fans first heard the original version, Lennon and the rest of the Beatles (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) received the Best Original Score Academy Award for their studio-set documentary, “Let It Be.” After Lennon was murdered in 1980, Ono commissioned yet another documentary, “Imagine: John Lennon” (1988) from writer/director/producer Andrew Solt.
Lennon and Ono’s film, once criticized as the vainglorious “most expensive home movie of all time,” has been updated with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack mix from three-time Grammy-winner Paul Hicks. Celebrity cameos include Harrison, Fred Astaire, Dick Cavett, Jack Palance, plus fellow filmmakers Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol.
“Imagine” lands in theaters September 17. Watch the trailer below, and click here for showtime updates.