The film will be directed by Amr Salama and will star Ahmed El Feshawy in the lead, with Ahmed Malek playing the teen version. The project now joins the small glut of Michael Jackson-themed movies.
Lifetime is also in the mix, recently releasing a trailer for its biopic Searching for Neverland, directed by Dianne Houston. The film isn’t a straightforward biopic of the singer, but rather a look at his later life through the eyes of his bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. It’s based on the book Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson and His Final Days, which hones in on the King of Pop’s personal life and relationship with his three children, Paris, Michael Jr., and Prince. The film, set to air May 29, will star longtime Michael Jackson impersonator Navi, whose impression is so spot-on that Jackson himself hired the Trinidadian native to work as his body double at various events for about 17 years, Navi told Entertainment Tonight.
Jackson’s family hasn’t commented publicly on the project—perhaps because it’s not as egregious to them as the scrapped British series Urban Myths, which featured a short in which Joseph Fiennes played the late singer. Fans roundly criticized the project after the casting was announced (and Fiennes clumsily defended it), though the final death knell was Paris herself tweeting that she was “incredibly offended” by the project and that it “makes me want to vomit.” The short was ultimately pulledearlier this year and never made it to air.
The next project in the upcoming Jackson-themed vortex is Bubbles, a film about Jackson’s famous pet chimpanzee, who traveled everywhere with the star and once bit a young Rashida Jones on the hand. (Jones, for what it’s worth, is excited about the project, telling Vanity Fair at the Peabodys red carpet on Saturday that it sounds “really cool.” “How am I not in that movie?” she said with a laugh. “I’m down for a cameo if they ask me.”)
Netflix closed in on a deal in Cannes to make a stop-motion film about the famous pet, based on a popular Black List script by Isaac Adamson, Deadline reports. Dream team Taika Waititi and Mark Gustafson are attached to direct. Per Deadline, the deal was one of the first big auctions to come out of Cannes this year and will “land someone near $20 million in heavy bidding.” The film does not yet have a release date, but animated films usually take much longer than the average project—and if the film is ready by 2019, it would be perfectly timed to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of Jackson’s death. Speaking of—prepare to see a whole lot of projects come out when that anniversary arrives, just like we’re seeing right now with Princess Diana projects as the 20-year anniversary of her death approaches.
These MJ projects also arrive at a time when pop culture is in the midst of an 80s revival, with sci-fi shows like Stranger Things grabbing the zeitgeist and Stephen King classics like It getting high-profile reboots. That decade is when Jackson released some of his most timeless work, including the record-breaking album Thriller. MJ’s also not the only pop star getting the film treatment these days: Madonna is also the subject of a new biopic, titled Blonde Ambition, focused on her formative early career in the 80s. However, Madge seems hellbent on making surethat movie never gets made.
The MJ movies also arrive at a time when Paris Jackson has begun shaping up her acting career, quickly descending upon the industry and becoming the new It girl around town. The young star has already graced the covers of several magazines, hit the late-night television circuit, and lined up work in some interesting projects. The bottom line: Neverland is coming for you, Hollywood.