The world premiere of “Three Days in the Life,” a documentary about John Lennon, was canceled after lawyers for the slain Beatle’s widow, Yoko Ono, warned that she had not authorized any public viewing of the film.
The documentary was to have been screened Tuesday night at the Berwick Academy, a private school in southern Maine.
Hap Ridgway, Berwick Academy’s headmaster, said he went from worrying about an overflow crowd to wondering if the documentary will ever be shown at all following a flurry of calls and e-mails from Ono’s lawyers Monday evening.
“We certainly hope the two sides will get together,” he said Tuesday. “What we’ve learned since it all broke loose is that it’s a long-running dispute.”
Ray Thomas, the documentary’s executive producer, culled raw footage that was shot inside Lennon’s apartment down to a two-hour film covering a pivotal time in Lennon’s career. The footage was shot by Ono’s former husband, Tony Cox, over a three-day period in February 1970, two months before the breakup of the Beatles.
Thomas and his partner, John Fallon, were unable to get an artist release from Ono, whose lawyers contend has a copyright interest in the film. That’s why they chose to do free screenings at high schools and colleges, starting with Berwick Academy.
But Ono’s lawyers said even that was forbidden, which led Berwick Academy to scrap the screening.
Cox’s unfinished documentary was sold in 2000 for $1 million to Fallon, Thomas and Providence businessman Bob Grenier.
Among other things, Lennon is seen composing songs, touring his 100-acre estate and rehearsing for a BBC show in which he performed “Instant Karma” for the first time publicly.