Graham King, the Oscar-winning producer of Bohemian Rhapsody, and Gladiator screenwriter John Logan are working on a Michael Jackson biography. Lionsgate will manage the film’s international distribution, according to Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake.
According to the studio, the film will present “an in-depth portrait of the multifaceted man who became the King of Pop” and will bring to life some of his “most memorable performances while giving an informed look into the entertainer’s artistic process and personal life.” John Branca and John McClain, who are co-executors of Michael Jackson’s estate, are also producing.
The Jackson business has been on the upswing of late, including the recently launched Broadway musical MJ: The Musical following a series of court victories that brought an end to serious legal crises.
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. Both accusers’ lawsuits were dismissed and a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically.
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.
Under the guidance of Branca and McClain, the 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 from a lethal dose of the anaesthetic propofol.
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 collaborated before on The Aviator which got them both Oscar nominations.
“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 that, “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.”