Documentaries have trouble finding audiences under the best of circumstances. Much of the public dismisses them as either boring or sensationalist. But you’ll have a whole lot more trouble getting people to see your picture when the government is trying to suppress you or when opponents come after you with murder on their minds.
10. Let It Be
Not often do Academy Award recipients choose to kill their own Oscar-winning films. But the Beatles documentary Let It Be was never a hit with the band itself, and when it won the Beatles the 1970 award for Best Original Song Score, the group refused to acknowledge it. They then spent the next few decades fighting legal battles to keep the film out of circulation.
Let It Be tells the story of how the Beatles recorded their 1969 album of the same name, which was a process John Lennon called “six weeks of misery.” The film showed the band members at their most irritable, which conflicted a bit with their jovial public personas. One segment, filmed without the men’s knowledge, showed George Harrison blowing up at Paul McCartney. Another showed John extremely bored by Paul’s pontificating.
In 2008, the surviving band members blocked the documentary from going out on home video, and to this day, there has still since been no authorized home release.