The turbulent life story of the King of Pop is coming to the big screen, courtesy of director Antoine Fuqua. Michael, a long-in-the-works biopic of Michael Jackson, will begin production this year at Lionsgate. Coming off the success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, producer Graham King will produce Michael, which promises to depict every aspect of Jackson‘s troubled life, which ended prematurely at age 50 in 2009.
Capturing Jackson‘s story within the confines of a feature film will be a tall order. He became a child sensation with his brothers in the Jackson 5 before achieving enormous solo success as an adult, becoming the first Black superstar of the MTV era; his album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with over 70 million copies sold. However, behind those triumphs was a childhood of abuse at the hands of his father, and an adulthood dogged by health crises, two tabloid-fodder marriages, and persistent accusations of pedophilia. Fuqua says he’s up to the task, saying, “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.”
Fuqua began his directorial career directing music videos, most notably Coolio‘s “Gangsta’s Paradise”. The success of that video led to greater opportunities; he made his feature debut with Chow Yun-fat‘s international film debut, the 1998 actioner The Replacement Killers, and achieved widespread acclaim with the 2001 Denzel Washington thriller Training Day, for which Washington won Best Actor at the Academy Awards. He is a frequent collaborator with Washington, having directed him in 2016’s The Magnificent Seven and all three Equalizer films, the third of which will be released later this year. Fuqua‘s action-heavy filmography also includes Tears of the Sun, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen, and Southpaw. Always a busy director, in the past few years alone, Fuqua directed Infinite, with Mark Wahlberg, The Guilty, with Jake Gyllenhaal, and Emancipation, with Will Smith.
Michael will be produced by King and the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain. Oscar nominee John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Skyfall) will pen the screenplay.
Principal photography on Michael will begin later this year. Stay tuned to Collider for future updates.