Denzel Washington’s Equalizer Director Making Biopic About The King Of Pop

Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day and The Equalizer, has been hired to direct a Michael Jackson biopic.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Over a decade after his passing, Michael Jackson is going to be the subject of a big-budget biopic, according to Deadline, from one of the best directors in the industry, Antoine Fuqua. Fuqua is most well-known for his collaborations with Denzel Washington, including Training Day and both Equalizer films, but it’s his most recent film, Emancipation, that proves he can bring the larger than life star to the big screen. The unflinching, harrowing look at the experience of a runaway slave is the brutal filmmaking required for the controversial life of The King of Pop.

While the biggest news, who gets to play Michael Jackson in the upcoming biopic, has not been decided yet, the rest of the production is already taking shape. John Logan, director of They/Them, wrote the script which has already been submitted to Lionsgate. Graham King is on board as a producer, he is the man responsible for Bohemian Rhapsody, so he has the skills required of the monumental task.

The first Michael Jackson biopic is being made with the blessings of the late musician’s estate. Career highlights expected to be covered by the film include Michael’s time as the front man of the Jackson 5 and his domination of the 80’s as the biggest selling recording artist of all time. Re-creations of the seminal music videos for “Thriller”, “Bad (an 18-minute epic done by Martin Scorsese), and the cameo-filled “Black or White, haven’t been confirmed, but would be amazing to see through the trained eye of Fuqua.

Of course, any depiction of Michael Jackson’s life in a respectable biopic can not turn a blind eye to the many controversies of the singer’s life. Famously, in 1993, a young boy accused the King of Pop of sexual abuse, setting off the long-running claims of pedophilia that dogged the musician throughout his career. The case was settled, with Jackson paying out $23 million, which was noted to not be an admission of guilt, but ten years later the accusations became even more heated.

michael jackson
Michael Jackson from the “Smooth Criminal” music video

In 2005, Michael Jackson stood trial to face the charges of molestation, false imprisonment, and extortion in addition to other related charges. Prosecutors presented a weak case, with the jury eventually finding Jackson not guilty of all charges, citing the timeline of accusations as an issue. The biopic will likely deal with this event, especially since it ended up finding the singer innocent.

Other recent biopics, including I Want To Dance With Somebody about Whitney Houston, and Austin Butler’s Elvis, have tried balancing out the good and the bad of the lives of our most famous performers. Using these films as a template, along with the award-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, the crew behind the camera is ready to make a Michael Jackson biopic a reality.

Graham King and John Logan have reportedly been pursuing a Michael Jackson biopic as a passion project for years. The team previously worked together on The Aviator, another biopic about a historically controversial figure, eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Behind the scenes, progress is happening quickly to get started working on the Jackson movie over the summer, following Antoine Fuqua’s filming of Equalizer 3 with Denzel Washington.