The late Michael Jackson is arguably as well known for his various troubling personal scandals as he is for his exploits as the King of Pop. Now, a controversial new Dan Reed-directed documentary on the pop icon, Leaving Neverland, stands to further alter the way we view Michael Jackson’s legacy.
Leaving Neverland, set to debut on HBO in two parts on March 3rd and March 4th, respectively, explores the separate but parallel experiences of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson as young children and invited to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch as his guests. As the film’s synopsis notes, “Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 40, and Robson, now 36, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film 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 his own.”
As Robson alleges in the trailer, while his days at Neverland were like a fantasy, the nights became dark and harrowing. “He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives,” he says somberly.
Leaving Neverland debuted at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year amid vehement disapproval from Michael Jackson’s Estate, who released a statement condemning the project as a smear job. As the Estate noted in their statement, published in full in Variety,
Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. …
We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice. Because despite all the disingenuous denials made that this is not about money, it has always been about money – millions of dollars — dating back to 2013 when both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who share the same law firm, launched their unsuccessful claims against Michael’s Estate.
The release of Leaving Neverland comes as the Michael Jackson Estate continues to prepare for the launch of their new Jackson stage musical, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, later this year.
You can watch the trailer for Leaving Neverland below:
Leaving Neverland – Official Trailer