Danny Boyle’s Yesterday begins with a weird worldwide power outage that strips all but one person’s memory of The Beatles, taking its lead character on a whirlwind journey that finds him recreating their catalog in the year of our lord 2019. But with Paul, John, George, and Ringo never recording songs like “Paperback Writer,” “Eleanor Rigby,” or “Yellow Submarine,” what impact could that have on other things in the world? In an interview with Huffington Post, screenwriter Richard Curtis discusses a few other things that they thought to change in this world. One scrapped idea was Tom Cruise never having made it in Hollywood.
It’s not just the Beatles that disappear, after all. Various things disappear in the outage, Harry Potter being another of them. Some make sense and are connected to the nonexistence of The Beatles, but others are just arbitrary—like Jared Leto replacing Cruise as Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series.
One other movie that would have been affected by The Beatles’ absence is one of Curtis’ own films, Love Actually, which he wrote and directed. In a well-remembered scene the film, “All You Need Is Love” is playing after Juliet and Peter say their vows, a grand gesture by Mark, the best man who is also in love with Juliet. Amusingly, Curtis hadn’t thought about how the movie would have been impacted by a Beatles-less world. “I’m going to take that on now. If anyone else says ‘what else has happened,’ I will say, ‘Love Actually is out,’” Curtis said. “I think the truth is we would have found another song that could have gone into the church scene.”
There are, of course, other movies, pop culture moments, and events in general that either wouldn’t exist or at least be impacted if The Beatles didn’t. There’s Across The Universe, a 2007 jukebox musical of Beatles songs that went on to be nominated for a Golden Globe. Or Ferris Bueller pulling off the biggest moment of his day off: lip-synching to The Beatle’s version of “Twist And Shout.” There’s also Lucy, a “remarkably complete” hominin fossil that was so named after the archeologists listened to “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” during excavation. Oh, and Charles Manson would’ve needed another LP that wasn’t The White Album to grossly misinterpret in service of his agenda.
It’s a fun exercise. More fun, if we’re being honest, than the movie itself.