×

Michael Jackson Music Biopic in the Works From ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Producer

“Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King has struck a deal with the Michael Jackson estate for the pop star’s life and music rights, with plans to make a feature film based on both.

King has tapped “Gladiator” and “The Aviator” screenwriter John Logan for the project. The film currently has no studio or distributor attached. The script will not provide a “sanitized” look at the life of Jackson, accused of child sexual abuse in the explosive documentary “Leaving Neverland” this year, according to Deadline Hollywood, which first broke the news.

A spokesperson for King confirmed the project with Variety, but would not comment on whether Logan’s script would include Jackson’s accusers — including choreographer Wade Robson and former child actor James Safechuck, both of whom had documented relationships with the late singer since childhood.

In response to “Leaving Neverland,” which won the Emmy Award for outstanding documentary or nonfiction special this year, the Jackson estate sued HBO for $100 million, saying the subjects had a financial motive to lie, and blasted the WarnerMedia company for not including their rebuttal to the allegations set forth. The Jackson estate also argued that by running the documentary, HBO violated a non-disparagement agreement stemming from a 1992 concert film from Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour. A federal judge granted the Jackson estate rights to move the case to arbitration, which HBO appealed in October.

Jackson died in 2009, and consistently denied accusations of sexual assault and misconduct with children. The four-hour “Leaving Neverland” premiered at January’s Sundance Film Festival and sparked a media sensation. The festival tapped psychologists from Utah State University to stand by for any triggered audience members.

Despite the harrowing specifics in the film, Jackson and his legacy have enjoyed continued support in the entertainment industry as opposed to other prominent men accused in movements like Me Too. In August, reports said MTV was considering dropping Jackson’s name from its highest honor, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. The network made no such change, and Missy Elliott accepted the trophy this year.

The King biopic is not the only project coming featuring his music and backstory, from child stardom in the Jackson 5 to global pop dominance as an adult solo artist. “MJ the Musical” is set for a 2020 Broadway debut and just cast actor Ephraim Sykes in the lead role.

King’s long-gestating Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released in 2018 to great success. It grossed over $900 million at the worldwide box office and earned Rami Malek an Oscar for his portrayal of the Queen rocker.

More Film

  • Kevin Hart'Jumanji: The Next Level' film

    Kevin Hart to Star in Action-Comedy from 'Broad City' Alums (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is developing an untitled action-comedy based on an original idea from “Broad City’s” Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs with Kevin Hart attached to star. Aniello and Downs will write the script as well as executive produce. Malcolm D. Lee is on board to direct the film with Will Packer and James Lopez [...]

  • Jeremy Saulnier John Boyega

    Netflix Sets Ensemble for Jeremy Saulnier's 'Rebel Ridge' Starring John Boyega (EXCLUSIVE)

    Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, Zsane Jhe, James Cromwell and “The Crown” breakout Erin Doherty are set to join John Boyega in Netflix’s “Rebel Ridge,” a thriller from “Green Room” writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, Variety has learned. Like the 2013 crime drama “Green Room,” Saulnier’s upcoming movie is said to be a high-velocity thriller that explores [...]

  • The Indoraptor prepares to strike in

    'Jurassic World 3' Director Announces New Title

    Director Colin Trevorrow announced via Twitter on Tuesday that “Jurassic World 3” has started principal production, and he also slyly revealed that the sixth film in the “Jurassic” franchise has a new title: “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The new title — which appears on the slate for the film in Trevorrow’s tweet — evokes the biblical [...]

  • Chuat Reymond

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond on Berlin’s ‘My Little Sister’

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s “My Little Sister” (“Schwesterlein”) premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Tuesday to strong critical and audience receptions, with particular praise heaped on lead actors Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger. In his Variety review, Guy Lodge praised: “This is bright, unaffected naturalism with a fluidly roving camera, but also a [...]

  • Miriam Haley and Tarale Wulff

    Women Who Testified in Harvey Weinstein Trial Slam His Lawyers for 'Victim Blaming' 

    Six women testified during the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, and now that the former movie mogul was found guilty of two felony charges, those women are speaking out with newfound freedom. Miriam Haley, who was assaulted by Weinstein in 2006, resulting in him being convicted of a criminal sex act (which carries a maximum sentence [...]

  • E. L. James

    Movie Rights to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Author's 'The Mister' Land at Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following the massive success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, Universal and author E. L. James are reteaming on the scribe’s next novel as the studio has optioned the rights to “The Mister,” James’ 2019 best-selling romance. Rights for the book, which recently hit the market, sparked a heated bidding war. James, who produced [...]

  • Bad Tales

    'Bad Tales': Film Review

    At a surprise party for his daughter, a randy Italian homeowner studies a neighbor’s wife through the sliding glass door and describes all the ways he’d like to violate her. In the bathroom, his 14-year-old son sits with his best friend, studying the hardcore porn sites listed in the browsing history of Dad’s cellphone. A [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content