We Just Saw Exclusive Footage From The Michael Jackson Biopic, And It Left Me With A Major Concern

Where does one even begin when trying to tell the story of Michael Jackson? It’s a question being posed by producer Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Aviator) as he took to the stage in Las Vegas to tease Michael as part of Lionsgate’s presentation at CinemaCon 2024. The studio saved Michael for last – partly because the movie will not be coming out until 2025, but also because it’s very clearly an important component of the upcoming Lionsgate slate. On a panel that rolled out the first look at the John Wick spinoff Ballerina, a better look at both The Crow and Borderlands, and news about Blumhouse tackling The Blair Witch, Michael closed the show. And while the footage was impressive, it did raise an important question that I still need answered. 

This was the world’s first official look at Michael, and it showcased the physicality and prowess of Jaafar Jackson, who has been cast in the role. But Jackson, Michael’s nephew, will only play the King of Pop in the later stages of his career, as Michael has also cast Juliano Krue Valdi to play Jackson 5 era Michael. The film is going to cover a massive span. Just how much? That’s a big part of my question. 

Michael Jackson, arguably, was one of our most famous celebrities, ever. He was famous from a young age, and had a global career that spanned decades. The footage that we saw stretched all the way back to the Jackson family’s beginnings in Indiana, and seemed to cover the Jackson 5 days. Then, we ran through a montage of moments set to some of Jackson’s greatest hits. Man in the Mirror. Beat It. Bad. The Way You Make Me Feel. Some biopics focus on a moment in an artist’s career. Michael appears to be attempting to devour the entirety of his accomplishments, and I’m just not sure how possible that is. 

My major concern, though, is the way that Bohemian Rhapsody handled Freddie Mercury’s (and Queen’s) rock legacy with kid gloves. The approach made the band uncomfortable initially, and they realized that they had to be involved to make sure the story got told right. But that meant spotlighting the highlights, and glossing over the controversies. Can one even do that with Michael Jackson? 

As prolific of an artist as he was (and no one is questioning his musical genius), Jackson came with a lot of off-stage baggage. And while Graham King assured attendees from the CinemaCon stage that the movie won’t shy away from the controversial moments in Jackson’s life, I remain genuinely curious how deep into those dark corners Michael will go. Our own Rich Knight broke down elements of Michael’s life that he does (and does not) want to see in this movie. I remain curious about how many will make it in. Is this movie a celebration, or an examination? The trailer suggested the former… which is fine. But you can’t ignore the latter completely. 

Hollywood walks that line all the time, from Elvis to… well, Walk the Line. We will continue to track the progress of Michael to see what kind of story Antonie Fuqua is setting out to tell. The movie hits theaters, for now, on April 18, 2025.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.