First Trailer for Michael Jackson Biopic ‘Michael’ Thrills Critics

Michael Jackson Biopic Michael (Credit: Instagram/Jaafar Jackson)

Lionsgate rolled out the first official trailer for its upcoming Michael Jackson biopic Michael on Wednesday at CinemaCon 2024 in Las Vegas.

Producer Graham King introduced the preview and said the movie will include more than 30 songs. Although King noted that the finished film will be “long,” to do the late King of Pop’s life story justice.

“Behind the unrelenting scrutiny and the accusations and the blinding media spotlight, he was simply a man. A man who lived a very complicated life. The movie will get into all of it,” King said about Jackson, via The Hollywood Reporter.

THR writer Aaron Couch said the trailer “dazzles,” and shared that it includes footage of the Jackson 5 performing “ABC,” and a 1990s-era concert featuring Jackson belting out “Man in the Mirror.”

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The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer 3 and Training Day), who got his start helming music videos. Jaafar Jackson, Michael Jackson’s real-life nephew, leads the cast in the title role.

Film reviewer Kathia Woods of “Cup of Soul Show” attended Wednesday’s Lionsgate presentation and described the trailer’s reception.

“The reaction in the room was wow,” Woods told Urban Hollywood 411. “The audience was impressed by the visual presentation especially of Jaafar Jackson in the titular role.”

Several other journalists in the room took to X, formerly Twitter, to share their reactions.

Andrew J. Salazar of the website Discussing Film gave the trailer a thumbs up.

“Gotta say that I’m impressed with the MICHAEL footage. Jaafar sounds just like MJ and the costuming is on point,” Salazar posted. “But I really gotta applaud Antoine Fuqua for being able to capture MJ’s chaotic lifestyle and fame purely through visual storytelling. #CinemaCon.”

Barry Hertz, film editor at The Globe and Mail, described the trailer as “impressive.”

“First look at Michael Jackson biopic Michael is a very slick, goosebumps-raising teaser that uses ‘Man in the Mirror’ as a through-line,” Hertz wrote on X. “Extremely impressive given that director Antoine Fuqua is only halfway through production. #CinemaCon,” Hertz shared.

Lionsgate has yet to officially release the trailer online.

The studio previously said the biopic will take on Jackson’s “triumphs and tragedies on an epic, cinematic scale — from his human side and personal struggles to his undeniable creative genius, captured by his most iconic performances.” It’s unclear how much the film will delve into the sexual abuse allegations against Jackson.

Oscar-nominated actor Colman Domingo plays family patriarch Joe Jackson. Nia Long portrays Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson, and Miles Teller plays the singer’s manager John Branca.

Branca and John McClain, co-executors of Jackson’s estate, are producing the new film alongside Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody). The script for the authorized biopic comes from John Logan (Gladiator and The Aviator).

Michael is still in production and scheduled for release on April 18, 2025.

CinemaCon is the largest gathering of movie theater owners from around the world. This year’s event runs from April 8-11 at Caesars Palace.

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