HBO Sets March Premiere Date for Michael Jackson Doc 'Leaving Neverland'

The dating of the film signals that HBO isn't backing down due to threats from the pop icon's estate lawyer, as one report has suggested.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
HBO's 'Leaving Neverland'

HBO isn't backing down on its Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland.

Amid an unsubstantiated report that the network might not air the controversial doc due to threats from Jackson's estate lawyer Howard Weitzman, HBO has set a premiere date for the film. The first part of the four hour film will air on Sunday, March 3, with the second part following on Monday, March 4.

From the Television Critics Association press tour stage, HBO's executive vp of corporate communications called the documentary "incredibly powerful." The film follows two adult accusers — Wade Robson and James Safechuck — as they recount their abuse by the pop icon.

After Leaving Neverland's debut at Sundance in January, Jackson's estate called the film "a tabloid character assassination" and insisted it "isn't a documentary," while his family called director Dan Reed and the film's two accusers "opportunists."

Reed responded to the scathing statements in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "They have a very precious asset to protect. Every time a song plays, a cash register goes 'ka-ching,'" It doesn't surprise me that they've come out fighting in defense of their asset."

In THR's review, chief television critic Daniel Fienberg described the film as 'a harrowing sit that feels both long and admirably thorough," adding that "it's doubtful you'll feel exactly the same after watching four hours of Leaving Neverland."