‘Leaving Neverland’ director says script for Michael Jackson biopic is “startlingly disingenuous”

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed has described the script for the upcoming Michael Jackson biopic Michael as “startlingly disingenuous”.

Michael has been confirmed to receive a theatrical release in the United States on April 18, 2025, per production house Lionsgate. A UK release date is yet to be announced.

Given the project’s connection to the Jackson estate, it is unclear whether the film will explore the most controversial aspects of the singer’s life, including the allegations of child sexual abuse.


However, according to Reed, who has read a draft of the script, the film makes a point to discredit Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the two men who allege that Jackson sexually assaulted them in the 2019 docuseries Leaving Neverland.

“Jackson is only ever seen caring for children with childhood cancer, or dancing with a little girl in a wheelchair, or tucking up multiple little boys, mostly his nephews, at sleepovers,” Reed said of the script (via Variety). “It feels like the creators of the movie have been stuck in a room with John Branca and just told what to write.”

Jaafar Jackson as Michael Jackson in 'Michael'
Jaafar Jackson as Michael Jackson in MICHAEL. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur

Michael will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is known for films including Training DayThe Equalizer and Brooklyn’s Finest. It will also be written by John Logan, who has previously worked on GladiatorThe AviatorSkyfall and Spectre.

It was announced in January 2023 that Michael Jackson’s own nephew, Jaafar Jackson, will play the King of Pop in the film. Jaafar is the son of Michael’s brother Jermaine. This will be the 27-year-old’s film debut, although he has appeared in the Lifetime reality show The Jacksons: Next Generation.

Filming began last month, having been delayed by the 2023 acting strike, with principal photography in Santa Monica expected to take 80 days.


Previously, Reed criticised the making of the new biopic, saying it “will glorify a man who raped children”.