Lionsgate Begins Production on Michael Jackson Biopic Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International Jan 11 jointly announced the start of production on Michael, the Michael Jackson biopic, which will begin principal photography Jan. 22.  Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson will be introduced to worldwide audiences in the starring role of the late musical icon.

Lionsgate and UPI have slated April 18, 2025, for the the worldwide theatrical release, which is being directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer films), with Oscar winner Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Aviator, The Departed) producing, from a script by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan.

Michael aims to bring an honest portrayal of the brilliant, yet complicated man who became the King of Pop. The film presents his triumphs and tragedies — from his personal struggles to his creative genius, exemplified by his iconic performances.

“Michael Jackson was inarguably one of the greatest entertainers of all time,” Adam Fogelson, chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “His impact on music, video, art, fashion, [and] culture, was extraordinary and is still profoundly relevant.”

Among his accomplishments, Michael defined MTV and his album Thriller remains the biggest selling album of all time. Since his passing, Michael’s music has continued to not only resonate broadly with his existing fans but has also garnered new fans all around the world.  The Tony Award-winning hit MJ the Musical, now in its third year, continues to play to sold-out crowds on Broadway, is now touring across North America, and will open on London’s celebrated West End in March, followed by Hamburg later in the year. The Cirque du Soleil-produced live stage experiences Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour and Michael Jackson ONE hold the titles of the top ten touring show of all time and top Las Vegas attractions, respectively. Michael Jackson’s This Is It remains the highest grossing concert documentary worldwide.

The movie will be produced by King and the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain. Lionsgate is distributing the film domestically, while Universal Pictures International will handle all territories apart from Japan, which Lionsgate will oversee.

‘Leaving Neverland,’ New Seasons of ‘Vice’ and ‘Crashing’ Among Titles From HBO in April

April is chock-full of releases on digital and DVD from HBO Home Entertainment, including the controversial Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland.

The two-part documentary Leaving Neverland, due on digital download April 29, explores the separate, but parallel experiences of two young boys, James “Jimmy” Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, both of whom were befriended by Jackson. They and their families were invited into his world, entranced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, Leaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own.

Crashing Season 3 is coming to digital April 1. The show’s third season finds Pete reinvigorated — and no longer crashing on people’s couches — as he reenters the New York stand-up comedy world following his college tour. But even though he’s improved, that doesn’t mean he’s at the head of the pack. As Pete edges closer to success one stand-up set at a time, he continues to navigate his faith, dating and the ever-changing comedy scene.

The documentary Student Athlete, due on digital April 8, unveils the exploitative world of high-revenue college sports through the stories of four young men at different stages of their athletic careers, as well as a coach-turned-advocate and a whistle-blowing shoe rep who exposes the money trail. From high-school recruiting to post-graduation, the usefulness of athletes is tied to their ability to produce revenue.

Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas Season 2, coming to digital April 15, focuses on education in America, investigating teacher pay, student mental health, the school-to-prison pipeline and other pressing topics. Cenac visits West Virginia, Oregon, California, Minnesota and other areas around the country to learn how communities navigate issues facing public education. While education serves as the season’s primary focus, the show addresses other issues, including the unionization of fast-food workers and the potential dangers of facial recognition software, as well as comedic solutions to lighter topics, such as how to get more steps in at the office or how to teach kids practical skills, like filing taxes.

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Also due on digital April 15 is High Maintenance Season 3, which profiles everyday people whose stories of success, failure, love and loss intersect across New York, while delving deeper into personal life of The Guy, who is spending less time on his iconic bicycle and more time in “Steve RV,” a set of wheels gifted to him last season. Featuring an intricate web of returning characters and new faces, the new episodes find New Yorkers exploring their relationship with the city, touching on such themes as death, parenthood, sexuality, fantasy and aging.

Vice Season 6, another title coming on digital April 15, continues to explore under-covered global stories with exclusive reports from Iraq, Russia, the Central African Republic and China. Season six also focuses on the domestic issues dividing the nation, providing in-depth reporting on the major debates surrounding gun laws, immigration, economics, education, civil rights and America’s place in the world.

Coming on digital April 29 is Outside the Bubble: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi. The show follows Pelosi as she ventures beyond the coast and sets out on a cross-country trip to engage in conversations with fellow Americans in an effort to gain an unfiltered understanding of other perspectives.

Also due on digital April 29 is Strike Back Season 6. When a Russian bomber crashes in the South China Sea, the covert special-ops soldiers of Section 20 — Thomas “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown), Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson) and Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata) — are sent to investigate. There, they cross paths with Katrina Zarkova (Yasemin Allen), a rogue Russian operative with questionable loyalties. Under orders of the new commanding officer, Col. Alexander Coltrane (Jamie Bamber), Section 20 pursues stolen contents of the Russian jet across Southeast Asia. They work alongside the Malaysian police to shut down a Triad gang in Kuala Lumpur, uncover a corrupt plot by a wealthy Indian businesswoman running for Parliament and plunge into the jungles of the Golden Triangle in Myanmar, facing off against mercenary drug agents and terrifying warlords as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens to push the world to the brink of global conflict.

HBO is also releasing two titles on DVD in April.

Coming April 2 is My Brilliant Friend. When the most important friend in her life seems to have disappeared without a trace, Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman immersed in a house full of books, turns on her computer and starts writing the story of their friendship. Set in a Naples, their story goes on to cover more than 60 years of their lives as she tries to describe the mystery of Lila, Elena’s brilliant friend and — in a way — both her best friend and her worst enemy.

Written and directed by Daniel Sawka, Icebox, available on DVD April 16, tells the story of Oscar, played by Anthony Gonzalez (Coco), a 12-year-old Honduran boy who is forced to flee his home and seek asylum in the United States. As Oscar attempts to reach his uncle, Manuel, in Arizona, he is apprehended by the Border Patrol and placed in “the icebox.” Faced with a seemingly impenetrable immigration system, Oscar struggles to navigate a path to freedom, with a journalist and his uncle, himself a recent immigrant, as his only lifelines.