It’s no surprise that the Grammy Awards’ music film category includes a nomination for the Ron Howard-directed documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years.”
Grammy voters have saluted the group, its music and its members regularly since first bestowing the new artist for 1964 award on the Fab Four.
“It’s a blast!” Howard said enthusiastically Tuesday morning not long after he got the news of the nomination.
“I jumped into it as a kind of irresistible life experience and creative opportunity. But as soon as [the news] hit the Internet, I started realizing how seismic anything having to do with the Beatles can be. I thought, ‘It’s always a high-wire act, but this one is really up there.’ So I took it very seriously, of course, as I always do.
“I’ve been incredibly gratified by the way the two constituencies I was most interested in have responded: the encyclopedic committed fans who’ve been living and breathing Beatles for decades, and the other being the people who think they know — they’ve grown up hearing the music, but don’t have the context, don’t have understanding of what really went on. There was so much drama, and hopefully for both audiences, we’ve helped show them what it was like to be on that journey.”
Howard also co-produced the documentary with Brian Grazer, Nigel Sinclair and Scott Pascucci, all sharing some measure of surprise at the extended life it got during its theatrical run this fall, when numerous theaters nationwide held it over again and again from what originally was booked for one- or two-week engagements at most.
“You’re just always hoping a movie’s going to be good,” veteran producer Grazer said in a separate interview. “You hope people are going to like it, but the threshold for us was having the Beatles actually like it. When we had the premiere in Leicester Square [in London], what was cool was that they liked it. That was the big win.”
The largely positive critical and public response to “Eight Days a Week,” Howard said, “is testament to the Beatles and their enduring importance, which is earned not just by their moment in time but by the work they did in that period.
“It endures well beyond that period, and the obvious reasons for me are the creative integrity and the quality of the writing. It goes back to the old saying, ‘The play is the thing.’ They told incredible stories that speak to us in so many different ways.”
One other example to Howard of how “Eight Days a Week” achieved what he hoped it would came in a comment from a millennial moviegoer.
“One guy actually said to me, ‘Wow — and I thought Bieber was big’,” Howard said. “Now they have this other benchmark.”