The previously-announced Michael Jackson biopic, Michael, will begin production this year with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua attached to direct, Variety reports.
In a statement, Fuqua spoke about taking on the project and his deep love for “combining film and music,” considering some of the first films he made were music videos. He also touched on the incredible influence Jackson had on him.
“For me, there is no artist with the power, the charisma, and the sheer musical genius of Michael Jackson,” Fuqua said. “I was influenced to make music videos by watching his work – the first Black artist to play in heavy rotation on MTV. His music and those images are part of my worldview, and the chance to tell his story on the screen alongside his music was irresistible.”
Fuqua’s most recent film was Emancipation, the Will Smith-starring historical drama inspired by the story behind the infamous “scourged back” photo, which documented the heavily scarred back of a former slave named Gordon. Fuqua’s next project will be The Equalizer 3, which will find Denzel Washington reuniting with Dakota Fanning for the first time since 2004’s Man on Fire.
Michael — which has the approval of the Jackson estate — was announced about a year ago. The screenplay was written by John Logan, who’s earned three Oscar nominations for his writing (The Gladiator, The Aviator, and Hugo), as well as a Tony for Best Play (Red in 2010). Michael is being co-produced by Graham King — who worked on the smash Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody — as well as John Branca and John McClain for Jackson’s estate.
Despite the impending start of production, no casting decisions for Michael have been confirmed.
When Michael was first announced, the film promised to offer “an in-depth portrayal of the complicated man who became the King of Pop.” Given the involvement of Jackson’s estate, however, it’s unclear how, or if, it will delve into the child sexual abuse allegations against the late singer. Jackson’s estate and family have vociferously denied the allegations, especially when they were widely covered in the 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland. A Broadway musical biopic, MJ — which also had the estate’s approval — did not mention the allegations.