Mysterious Michael Jackson has started more movie companies than movies.
Although nothing has materialized yet from his Nation Films deal with Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures, Jackson has announced his second film production company, dubbed Michael Jackson Prods.
The move reportedly caught Nation Films by surprise.
“We know nothing about it,” a Sony spokesman said.
Sources confirmed Nation Films production exex Melissa Bachrach and recently appointed Lawrence Rudolph were unaware of the new company. Both refused to comment.
Steve Chabre, president and CEO of Jackson’s companies, said there is “absolutely not” a problem with the Columbia Pictures deal.
The 34-year-old superstar launched MJP to have “an opportunity to develop and produce feature films with strong messages consistent with Michael’s philosophy and reflective of (Jackson’s non-profit) Heal the World Foundation,” Chabre said.
Jackson’s two features in devlopment at Nation Films –“Midknight” and “Adam at Midnight”– also will reflect his “philosophy,” Chabre noted. However, that deal was “established as a more traditional, commercial Hollywood entity.”
The new non-studio venture “is a little more international and more philosophically oriented,” Chabre said. “This is more (for) message movies … with a strong bent toward international audiences.”
The new venture has two anonymous foreign investors.
Jackson may have more control of pix at MJP. A news release said Jackson will both script and perform in some of the films.
“Michael will probably take a producer credit, but we haven’t gotten that far yet,” Chabre said. “It’s a little embryonic just to make this announcement.”
MJP budgets will depend on scripts, Chabre said. “The scripts really run the gamut. It’s really a range. We’re not gearing to blockbusters, nor to advanced home movies.” He said Jackson will only review scripts “if there’s something we think is good.”
Whether Jackson will appear in the Nation Films pix before announcing an MJP project remains unclear.
The script for futuristic action fantasy “Midknight”– based on an idea by Jackson — was recently rewritten by Howard Rodman (Daily Variety, Jan. 19).
Reverse Cinderella musical “Adam at Midnight” is in development with Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Prods. Coppola directed Jackson in the Disneyland short “Captain Eo.”
“I believe passionately in the power of mass entertainment and have seen how, with positive messages, it can help alleviate problems we face, especially the suffering of the world’s children,” Jackson said. “MJP will enjoy a rare degree of independent integrity allowing us to produce the kind of commercial films we believe can achieve some good in this troubled world.”