Antoine Fuqua’s Michael moonwalks into CinemaCon with a first look at the emotional Michael Jackson biopic

CinemaCon crowds say the first look at Antoine Fuqua’s Micheal Jackson biopic depicts an emotionally intense tribute to the King of Pop.

Last Updated on May 1, 2024

Annie, are you okay? You look like you might faint after producer Graham King turned up at CinemaCon to surprise the crowd with a first look at Antoine Fuqua’s Michael Jackson biopic, Michael. Said to be an emotionally intense depiction of the King of Pop, Michael is positioning itself as a HUGE event film. JoBlo’s editor-in-chief, Chris Bumbray, is in the crowd and says Michael will surely be controversial.

During his presentation, Graham said he knows everyone has an opinion about Michael Jackson, for good or ill. However, he did change the world of pop music forever, and his controversy made him a fascinating subject for Fuqua’s film. Graham also said Jackson was an enigma, but behind everything was a man with a very complicated, difficult life.

Michael contains 30 songs from Jackson’s legendary catalog. Next, a trailer played for the crowd, showing Jaafar Jackson as the Gloved One. Chris says he looks incredible in the role and NAILS the voice. The trailer shows Jackson at different stages of his life and how much he’d changed throughout the years.

The cast includes Nia Long as Katherine Jackson, Colman Domingo as Joe Jackson, Miles Teller as long-time lawyer John Branca, Juliano Krue Valdi as young Michael Jackson, and Jackson’s real-life nephew Jaafar Jackson as the adult version of Michael. Antoine Fuqua is directing from a script by John Logan. 

Additionally, Larenz Tate plays Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records and impresario. Kat Graham (The Vampire DiariesThe Parent Trap) plays the legendary Diana Ross, the lead singer of the chart-topping Motown group The Supremes. Jessica Sula (SplitMalum) plays Michael’s older sister, La Toya, the fifth child and middle daughter of the Jackson family, who first gained recognition in the mid-1970s on the family’s variety TV series “The Jacksons.” She launched a solo career, releasing multiple albums in the 1980s.

Liv Symone (Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Doing It Wrong) will play Gladys Knight, whose soulful voice and electric performances alongside her family (as the Pips) produced several #1 hits for Motown, including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”; later, her signature song, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” would bring worldwide popularity to the Empress of Soul.

Kendrick Sampson (Fashionably YoursInsecure) plays legendary, 28-time Grammy Awards-winning songwriter, composer, and producer Quincy Jones, who first met Michael when he was just 12 years old. The pair would go on to collaborate on three of Michael’s most successful albums: “Off the Wall” (1979), “Thriller” (1982), and “Bad” (1987).

KeiLyn Durrel Jones (How to Die AloneFear the Night) plays Bill Bray, whom Joe Jackson originally hired in the 1970s as security for the Jackson 5. Bray went on to work exclusively with Michael for nearly three decades, becoming one of his most trusted friends.

Finally, Kevin Shinick (Robot ChickenWhere in the World is Carmen Sandiego?) plays Dick Clark, host of “American Bandstand,” where the Jackson 5 made a legendary early appearance in their rise to fame.

The production cooperates with the Jackson estate, which means that they’ll be able to use his music, but it remains to be seen how much of the famous singer’s troubles will be addressed.

“Michael will bring audiences a riveting and honest portrayal of the brilliant yet complicated man who became the King of Pop,” reads the official description. “The film presents his triumphs and tragedies on an epic, cinematic scale — from his human side and personal struggles to his undeniable creative genius, exemplified by his most iconic performances. As never before, audiences will experience an inside look into one of the most influential, trailblazing artists the world has ever known.” Michael will hit theaters on April 18, 2025.

Are you excited about Antoine Fuqua’s Michael Jackson biopic? Are you surprised the film showed up at CinemaCon? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.