At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film that met with the biggest controversy was Leaving Neverland, a documentary that extensively details child sex-abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. Directed by Dan Reed, the doc — which clocks in at over four hours — interviews two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege the late pop star sexually abused them when they were children, at ages 10 and 7, respectively. Jackson’s estate and family have denounced the film as “tabloid character assassination,” and likened Robson and Safechuck to “two perjurers.”
HBO was quick to snag the rights to Leaving Neverland, and it will air over two nights on the network beginning March 3 on its live channel and streaming services, HBO GO and HBO Now. Specifically, the network decided to split the documentary into two parts — the first will become available on March 3, with the second on March 4. Afterwards, it’ll be available to stream indefinitely, in full, for those who have active HBO subscriptions.
Speaking to Vulture about his experience directing the film, Reed explained he chose to embark on such a controversial topic because he truly believes Robson and Safechuck are credible in their accusations. “This wasn’t a half-hour conversation. This was days and days of interview, followed up by lots of checking up and verifying. And I haven’t found anything that made me question whether they were telling the truth or not,” Reed said. “I think most people who take the trouble to watch the film will come out believing Wade and James’s story. I think it’d be very difficult not to believe them, once you’ve listened to them and their families.” He added, realizing many of the allegations against Jackson have died down in recent years: “I’m kind of astonished that this film hasn’t been made before. I think what we’ve done is extraordinary and unique, and it’s never been done before.”