Michael Jackson biopic in the works after 'Leaving Neverland' lawsuits dismissed

Jackson's estate is on the up after a number of high-profile lawsuits were settled in recent years
Jackson's estate is on the up after a number of high-profile lawsuits were settled in recent years Copyright Rusty Kennedy/AP
By Tim Gallagher with AP
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Graham King will produce the Oscar fodder film and the move comes as paedophilia and tax lawsuits have been resolved for the Jackson estate.


A biopic about Michael Jackson is in the works from the Oscar-winning producer of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Graham King, who created the Oscar-winning film which chronicled the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, will be joined by John Logan who wrote the screenplay for 90s epic ‘Gladiator’.

Lionsgate, who will distribute the film, said that the film will give, "an in-depth portrayal of the complicated man who became the King of Pop" and will bring to life his "most iconic performances”.

Promising insight into the ‘Thriller’ singer’s artistic process the film will capitalise on an upswing in Jackson’s profitability following a series of court victories that brought an end to serious legal crises.

The recent boost of the Jackson name includes the recently launched Broadway musical ‘MJ: The Musical,’ as well as a Lifetime documentary on Janet Jackson named ‘Janet’.

What were Michael Jackson’s legal woes?

The 2019 HBO documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ raised child molestation allegations anew. The once-dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been revived by changes in the law, and a decision in the estate's appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.

Taylor Jewell/AP
Accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck with director Dan Reed, HBO stand by their film despite the court lossesTaylor Jewell/AP

Both accusers' lawsuits were dismissed and a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically.

The two men featured in the documentary are appealing the dismissals of their lawsuits and HBO has defended "Leaving Neverland" as a valid and important piece of documentary journalism.

Ironically, the victory handed to the estate in its tax case came in part because the judge believed the value of Jackson's image and likeness had been severely diminished by such allegations at the time of his death, despite his acquittal at his 2005 child molestation trial.

What do we know about the film so far?

The Jackson estate has brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in the past 11 years, and Jackson has remained the top-earning deceased celebrity every year since his death at age 50.

Little else was revealed about the film, and no director or cast has been announced, but the names behind it suggest that eyes are on awards potential. Logan and Graham both received Oscar nominations for their previous collaboration ‘The Aviator’.

"I first met the Jackson family in 1981 and I'm humbled to bring their legacy to the big screen," King said in a statement. "Sitting at Dodger Stadium watching the Victory Tour, I could never have imagined that nearly 38 years later I would get the privilege to be a part of this film."

Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, also said in a statement: "Ever since Michael was little, as a member of The Jackson 5, he loved the magic of cinema... as a family, we are honoured to have our life story come alive on the big screen."

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