It’s official: The Michael Jackson biopic is a “go,” and it just landed its director.
An exclusive report from Deadline confirms that Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua will helm the film for Lionsgate. Tentatively titled Michael, the script will be written by John Logan (They/Them, Skyfall) and produced by Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody) for GK Films. The co-executors of Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, will also serve as producers.
‘Emancipation’s Antoine Fuqua To Direct Michael Jackson Biopic For Lionsgate; John Logan Script & ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’s Graham King Producing With Estate https://t.co/lkt5rsmx1l
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) January 18, 2023
Sources tell Deadline that the film will make the most of Jackson’s musical legacy, from his beginnings as leader of The Jackson 5 to becoming one of the biggest superstars in music history. However, it will not sugarcoat his life either, as the film also intends to touch on the pedophile accusations that haunted him all the way to (and following) his death in 2009 at the age of 50.
Fuqua is said to be jumping straight into the Michael project after he completes work on The Equalizer 3 with Denzel Washington in Italy. He will also call on his Equalizer 3 and Emancipation cinematographer Robert Richardson to help with production, set to beginSocial Justice later this year.
The film has some big shoes to fill in terms of musical biopics. GK Films’ previous biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody (about the legendary rock band Queen) grossed over $900 million worldwide. Lionsgate has the world rights but will seek an offshore partner. It is said that Sony Studios, who produced 2009’s This Is It, may be interested.
The musical biopic would be a “return” of sorts for Fuqua, who spent his early career directing music videos for Prince, Lil Wayne, and Stevie Wonder before his breakthrough feature film Training Day.
“The first films of my career were music videos, and I still feel that combining film and music are a deep part of who I am,” said Fuqua. “For me, there is no artist with the power, the charisma, and the sheer musical genius of Michael Jackson. 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.”