yesterday script changes

Yesterday, the latest film from director Danny Boyle, had one of the all-time great movie premises: what if a struggling musician woke up to realize that the rest of the world had forgotten the music of The Beatles? The movie hit theaters at the end of last month and has made $68 million worldwide so far on a reported $26 million budget – not exactly a runaway hit, but not a failure, either.

Now writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, About Time) is sounding off about some of the alterations Boyle made to the screenplay, and you can judge for yourselves whether you think these Yesterday script changes improved or worsened the final product. Warning: spoilers ahead.

In a discussion with CinemaBlend, Curtis explains that before Boyle signed on, he demanded that 20-25% of the script be changed to fit his vision. Here are some of the big moments that ended up being changed:

“So you know the way that Lily [James] was on that huge screen at the back in the final concert? That wasn’t in my original draft. That was an idea of Danny’s. And I’ve got a feeling the Liverpool thing he sort of pushed and expanded, because he was so keen that Liverpool should be represented. And he definitely added ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da‘ at the end, and I think he asked me to shorten it, which is always a thing. Shorten it before the incident occurs.”

The moment with Lily James on the Jumbotron at the concert didn’t work for me at all as the romantic climax of this relationship – in fact, it struck me as extremely odd that Himesh Patel‘s Jack Malik would put Lily James’ Ellie in such a vulnerable position with no warning, and that we were somehow supposed to view that as endearing. From Boyle’s perspective, I can see how that shot may have been visually interesting, but from a character angle, it fell flat.

But it sounds like Boyle had a few good notes as well: Curtis also explained how in his original draft, he had wanted to spend far more time on Jack’s struggling music career before the film’s major plot kicks in, and Boyle decided to speed things along instead. That was a great call, because the pacing is one of the things that actually helps offset some of this movie’s biggest flaws. And on a recent episode of the Empire podcast, Curtis revealed that his original draft also included Jack meeting up with the other members of the Beatles over the course of the movie, including a post-credits scene with Paul McCartney. Thankfully, Boyle says he would have “resisted” those additional cameos beyond the one that became a key point late in the movie. You can learn more about that by listening to the full podcast episode here.

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