Universal Pictures has picked up the international rights to distribute Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming Michael Jackson biopic.
The deal announced Tuesday gives the studio rights to release the film outside the U.S. and Canada, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The authorized biopic titled Michael comes from Lionsgate.
“Michael’s decades-long career left an indelible mark on the way audiences experience entertainment all over the world,” Joe Drake, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be partnering with our friends at Universal to give global audiences new insight into the complex life of one of the most prolific artists the world has ever known.”
The film will star the late King of Pop’s nephew Jaafar Jackson, 27, in the lead role. Jaafar is the son of Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson.
The biopic will be directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer 3 and Training Day), who got his start helming music videos.
Lionsgate says the film will address all aspects of the late music legend’s life. Although the biopic has the blessing of the Michael Jackson estate, so it’s unclear if it will address the child molestation allegations against the singer.
The Grammy-winning performer was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003, at his Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif. However, he was acquitted of all charges related to the allegations.
The 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland addressed the molestation accusations against Jackson.
Jackson’s estate blasted Leaving Neverland as an “outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on” the music legend.
John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the singer’s estate, are producing the new film alongside Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody). The script comes from John Logan (Gladiator and The Aviator).
Production on Michael is expected to begin as soon as the SAG-AFTRA strikes ends.