Michael Jackson photographed circa 1979.
Are you ready for more Michael Jackson movies? At the Jan. 24 premiere of the Showtime documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall at the Sundance Film Festival -- attended by director Spike Lee, Questlove and Glassnotes Records founder Daniel Glass -- producer John Branca hinted that more could be on the way.
“I’d like to see a movie about the History album and tour,” Branca, who’s also co-executor of the Michael Jackson estate, told Billboard. “It was his last tour, and his most underappreciated album. Michael was out of favor in the U.S. at the time. But if you listen to it start to finish, it’s one of the greatest albums of all time.”
But what about Jackson’s biggest blockbuster, Thriller -- which Lee, who also directed the Bad 25 documentary, has said he’d love to give the doc treatment? “That’s definitely a candidate,” said Branca, who added that there will Halloween-themed events around the album next year, its 35th anniversary.
But for now, it’s all about Michael Jackson’s Journey, which hits Showtime on Feb. 5. “It’s a part of Michael’s career and life that few people know about,” Branca says. “Everyone knows about the meteoric rise of Jackson 5 and Michael having his first No. 1 single at the age of 10. But they don’t know what came after. The Jacksons had to split away from Motown, and many people thought their career was absolutely over, that they were yesterday’s news, that they were a boy band whose time had come and gone. This shows the story of Michael resurrecting the Jacksons and making his first solo album -- and we all know what happened after that.”
The film consists of present-day interviews mixed with some pretty incredible vintage footage. Branca’s favorite old clip? “There was this tap-dance team called the Nicholas Brothers -- the greatest tap dancers of all time. And there’s footage of Michael going toe to toe and step to step with them. Who knew Michael could tap-dance?”
Before the premiere, Lee also spoke about his call to boycott the Academy Awards after all 20 acting nominations went to white stars. It’s bigger than the Oscars, he explained; it’s an industrywide issue. “You have to get diversity among the people who have green-light votes. We’re gonna keep having this problem at the Oscars because they can only vote on the films that were made. So we gotta go up, [to] the people in the room who decide what we’re making and what we’re not making. There are no people of color in those rooms."