This is really saying something.

Jafaar Jackson in Michael

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

With the critical acclaim of Elvis, the box office success of Bob Marley: One Love and the imminent release of the Amy Winehouse film Back to Black, musical biopics seem to be in. The trend is only set to continue in 2025, as the year will be marked by the release of a biographical film centered around Michael Jackson. The film, which is being directed by Antoine Fuqua is in production now and, all the while, BTS tidbits have been dropping. While way too early for any of us to actually speak to the quality of the movie, it just received an unexpected vote of confidence from a major studio executive.

Michael is being distributed in the United States by Lionsgate, which is headed up by CEO Jon Feltheimer. It’s been reported that Feltheimer recently purchased some shares of the company by way of the open market. It’s an interesting move, and one that begs some questions in regard to his motivation. But, if you were to ask the company’s vice chair, Michael Burns, it can be chalked up to the upcoming biopic. Burns recalled how Feltheimer reacted after visiting the set:

He is pretty fiscally conservative in many ways and so that was actually interesting to see him do it, and I swear he bought it because he went to the set — we are shooting the Michael Jackson movie on the Sony lot – and he just came back and just said, ‘This thing is going to be incredible.’

Now, it’s definitely not out of the ordinary for a Hollywood bigwig like Michael Burns to talk up his company’s own production while talking to a trade like Deadline. However, to hear that his colleague apparently bought them around the time that he visited the set of the film is intriguing. I mean, if Jon Feltheimer’s purchase was indeed spurred by what he saw on the set, then it speaks volumes to what the cast and crew are doing.


MIchael Jackson eating popcorn

3 Things I Do Want To See in Antoine Fuqua’s Upcoming Michael Jackson Movie, And 3 Things I Definitely Don’t Want To See

By all accounts, Michael is set to be an extravagant piece of work, though it’ll also seek to humanize the complex entertainer who was known to the public as The King of Pop. In the film, Michael Jackson, who died in 2009 from cardiac arrest, is being played by his nephew, Jaafar Jackson. Antoine Fuqua is ecstatic about Jafaar playing the role and has made note of the young man’s “uncanny” similarities to his late uncle. Coming off his Oscar nomination for Rustin, Colman Domingo is playing Jackson family patriarch, Joe, while Nia Long will play the matriarch and his wife, Katherine. Other notable cast members include Miles Teller, who’s portraying lawyer John Branca, and Laura Harrier, who’s set to play music producer Suzanne de Passe.

The film may be starting to pick up buzz now, but not everyone has been so thrilled about it. Leaving Neverland’s Dan Reed was notably upset when the movie was confirmed to be in the works. His 2019 documentary centerered around the “Billie Jean” singer’s relationships with young men and the sexual abuse allegations that stemmed from them. When discussing the biopic, Reed questioned why the public didn’t express “outrage” over it like they apparently did when his doc was released.

All of that aside, it does seem that many prospective moviegoers are at least curious about what Antoine Fuqua’s latest flick has to offer. It’s honestly a hard production to ignore, considering the talent involved. And, if Jon Feltheimer really bought shares because he’s that bullish about it, then we might be in for something truly special.

Michael is currently set to open in theaters on April 18, 2025. In the meantime, you can read about what’s coming up on the 2024 movie schedule and watch some great biopics about Black musicians.