Home Movies Song for “Schmucks”: Beatles Score $1.5 Mil for “Fool on the Hill”

The Beatles rarely if ever give permission for their records to be used in movies. Sometimes they allow the songs to be covered by other artists. But it’s a given that the answer is ‘no’ when a film producer asks for a Beatles record to be part of his or her soundtrack.

Well, this week there’s an exception. The Beatles have allowed their classic, “Fool on the Hill,” to be used as the song over the opening credits in Jay Roach‘s “Dinner for Schmucks.” I am told by inside sources that Paramount/Dreamworks paid $1.5 million to buy out the rights in perpetuity. That is a staggering amount of money to pay for one song in a film.

It didn’t hurt that “Schmucks” comes from Dreamworks, which means Spielberg, who is Paul McCartney’s neighbor in the Hamptons. Also, producer Walter Parkes says that both McCartney and Yoko One saw and liked the movie. Ono also allowed the lyrics to “Imagine” by her late husband, John Lennon, to be used. For a price.

In the past, the Beatles have not allowed the use of their records in many films. When Wes Anderson wanted “Hey Jude” and “I’m Looking Through You” for “The Royal Tennenbaums,” he put them in the version that was shown at the opening of the New York Film Festival. Subsequently he had to remove the recordings and substitute them with instrumental versions made by Mark Mothersbaugh.

Coincidentally, director Jay Roach’s wife, singer Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, has recorded one Beatle song herself: “Got to You Get You into My Life,” with Matthew Sweet.

You may wonder why no Beatles recordings have ever made it into movies. The late great Neil Aspinall, who ran the Beatles’ Apple Corps for almost 40 years, was adamant that the Fab Four’s identity was never diluted or demeaned by being pushed into rush of other media. He was right, too. By keeping the Beatles above the fray, Aspinall put them in a class of their own. So “Schmucks” will likely be the last movie t0 allow such a thing for a long time.

19 replies to this post
  1. The souped-up hyper-resonance of the version of Fool on the Hill used for the opening credits of Dinner For Schmucks is like listening to Paul through a filter of aural funhouse mirrors. The original song was much simpler, purer, and evoked its own meaning far better than this overproduced version does. It’s so different from the way it was originally recorded that it’s almost hard to believe it’s Paul singing. If they paid $1.5 million for it, Paul got robbed–because the layers added on spoiled the song.

  2. this was a nostalgic and appreciated addition to this move. It was a “grown up, hillarious,and heart warming movie” i’m still humming song in my head from memory, though i was only born in 1964.. i think song is same age or close enough. Thankyou paul for giving permission. i dont think this happens very much if ever. I needed this song to be popular again :)

  3. Yoko allowed “Happiness is a warm gun” to be used in a recent Michael Moore film, I don’t remember which one- they sometimes allow it in films and docus- just not many. Neil also would not let Beatles songs on compilation 60’s albums and I think there is also a deal where the Beatles can’t be put in the bargain bin.

  4. Now you know why Beatles songs are rarely used in a movie, especially an original song, not a cover like “twist & shout”. Somehow I hope “THE FOOL ON THE HILL” will be remixed for the Dreamworks film so we all have something new to listen to besides the recent remastered BEATLES’ remastered catalog. Let’s see if Capital/Apple will have rights to a soundtrack album.

  5. The Beatles version of “Hey Jude” was used in the Jane Fonda/Jon Voight film “Coming Home”. The entire soundtrack was 60’s classics from The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, Aretha, Buffalo Springfield, Simon & Garfunkel and Tim Buckley

  6. It’s not a movie, but The Beatles allowed their recording of All You Need Is Love to be used in the series finale of the Prisoner TV show – in 1968, when they were still together.

  7. Wow i always wondered how much a Beatles song would cost.
    Do you know what Sony/ATV had to do with this? How much would they get of the $1.5m?

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