Leaving Neverland will air sometime after its premiere at Sundance Film Festival on January 25.
Organisers of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival recently added a last-minute addition to the slate of movies premiering in Park City, Utah later this month – and one familiar tale, featuring a household name, is bound to stir up some controversy.
Within the same fortnight as explosive Lifetime documentary Surviving R Kelly's airing – exposing the artist as an alleged abuser, pedophile and rapist – HBO and Channel 4 have announced that they will be airing a similar accuser-led documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged history of molestation.
Leaving Neverland is a new documentary that will focus on a series of sexual abuse allegations made against Jackson by a pair of young boys who were befriended by the artist at a young age.
The documentary features extensive interviews with the now-adult men who claim that Jackson manipulated and abused them when they were seven and ten years old.
Leaving Neverland is comprised of two feature-length episodes, amounting to a nearly four-hour runtime.
The official plot synopsis from Sundance goes as follows:
As one of the world’s most celebrated icons, Michael Jackson represents many things to many people—a pop star, a humanitarian, a beloved idol. When allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that the King of Pop could be guilty of such unspeakable acts. In separate but parallel stories that echo one another, two boys were each befriended by Jackson, who invited them into his singular and wondrous world. Seduced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence and enthralled by their relationship with him, both boys’ families were blind to the manipulation and abuse that he would ultimately subject them to.
Through gut-wrenching interviews with the now-adult men and their families, Leaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained exploitation and deception, documenting the power of celebrity that allowed a revered figure to infiltrate the lives of starstruck children and their parents.
Jackson's estate has had a similar response to Leaving Neverland as R. Kelly's had to Surviving R. Kelly.
Attempting to discredit the accusers, representatives told TMZ that the film is "another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson… just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible film-maker would involve himself with this project.”
Deadline reports Leaving Neverland will debut both episodes of the documentary series at Sundance, and then will air the piece on HBO and Channel 4 in the UK sometime in the spring on two consecutive nights.
An exact date has yet to be revealed.