A man who claims he wrote the script for Danny Boyle’s Beatles movie Yesterday has alleged Richard Curtis took all the credit for writing the film’s screenplay.
Jack Barth told Uproxx that he sold the rights to the screenplay, which was originally titled Cover Version and revolved around a struggling musician who discovers he is the only person on Earth to remember the music of The Beatles.
Barth was given a “story by” credit on the eventual film, along with Curtis, but the Love Actually writer himself was solely credited with writing the film’s screenplay.
“I didn’t realise Richard was going to do this to me until the week that the film was released,” he said. “Then all the publicity hit all at once and I could see that he was taking credit for everything. I think I could have done something then but I didn’t want to jeopardise the film. I got lawyers to contact Richard’s lawyers and they just dragged it out.”
He added: “By the time I realised I needed to get the story out there myself, it was really hard to pitch something that was for a film that had come out eight months earlier. Most of the media is concerned with just promoting the current films, they’re not interested in a story about the abuse of the powerless by the powerful.”
Curtis previously claimed that he had only heard the basic premise of Barth’s script.
“I had the one-sentence [description], then said ‘I don’t want any more information’, because I sometimes found when I worked with original material that it doesn’t come from the heart,” he told Den of Geek.
But Barth pointed to several plot points in Cover Version that also featured in Yesterday, including the protagonist having a relationship with his bandmate. Both scripts also featured an elderly John Lennon living out his life as a fisherman in Liverpool.
The closing gag, in which it is revealed that no one recalls Harry Potter either, also appears in Barth’s script.
“This is why I’m so upset,” he added. “This is why I actually feel like Richard has damaged me financially. I write and say, ‘I’m the guy who created the film Yesterday,’ and they look and they go, ‘No, you’re not, that’s a Richard Curtis movie, you moron.’”