Michael Jackson‘s estate today released a statement saying it did not sanction two upcoming Michael Jackson projects, one by Lifetime TV and another for which a script was recently purchased by Netflix. At the same time the estate indicated it has several unannounced Jackson projects in development.
Last week, Lifetime TV released a trailer for its film Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland based on Remember The Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days, a 2014 book written by Jackson’s bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. Michael Jackson impersonator Navi stars as the late pop icon. The film is slated to be released later this month.
News also broke that Netflix was nearing a deal for a script on the life of Michael Jackson as told from the perspective of his pet monkey Bubbles. Isaac Adamson penned the non-traditional biopic, which was the top title on the 2015 Black List. Taika Waititi, who directed the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, was slated to co-helm the stop-animation feature with Mark Gustafson. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the deal neared $20 million and included worldwide rights.
The statement from the estate implied that litigation could follow for what it is claiming is unauthorized use of Jackson’s “music, images, video and films” that seek to exploit Jackson’s legacy. The estate also claimed it has “numerous project in development” which, presumably unlike the aforementioned projects, “respect, honor and celebrate Michael’s life and legacy.” The executors said they were were not yet ready to announce these projects.
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Full statement from the Michael Jackson Estate:
“To clear up any confusion or misperceptions about unsanctioned Michael Jackson projects currently in the news — including a Lifetime television movie and an animated film script recently purchased by Netflix — the Estate of Michael Jackson does not license or permit the use of any rights it owns, including to Michael’s music, images, video and films, for use in unauthorized works seeking to exploit Michael’s legacy. The Estate itself has numerous projects in development, all of which respect, honor and celebrate Michael’s life and legacy along with his extraordinary artistry that touched fans throughout the world. When the executors are ready to announce them, they will. As Michael said countless times about his own work, the quality goes in before the name goes on.”
This article originally appeared in Billboard.