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Michael Jackson may be best remembered for revolutionizing the music scene, but in 2002, the King of Pop had other ambitions. Just months after the release of his 10th and final album, Invincible, Jackson made plans to enter the film business with the launch of his own independent film company, Neverland Pictures.
The mini-studio was the result of a proposed $20 million partnership between Jackson’s Neverland Entertainment and production company MDP Worldwide. The news was made public at a private dinner reception at MDP chief Mark Damon’s home, where nearly 300 guests — consisting mostly of distributors who had shopped projects at AFM earlier that day — eagerly awaited Jackson’s arrival.
The pop icon made a rare appearance at the event, arriving arm-in-arm with longtime friend Elizabeth Taylor. “He called ?me beforehand and asked if he could bring his friend — his best friend,” Damon tells The Hollywood Reporter. “When the distributors saw Michael and Liz Taylor next? to him, they all fainted. To this ?day, [some] still tell me that it was the greatest experience of their lives.”
At the dinner, Jackson spoke enthusiastically about his vision for Neverland Pictures: He and producing partner Raju Patel would produce family films and reboots of classic fairy tales, some of which Jackson also would direct and star in.
“I dream great dreams,” Jackson said. “Everything I’ve achieved started with a dream, and of all the dreams, this is the one I am most passionate about.”
But nothing came of Jackson’s movie-mogul plans, as the deal never closed. “Michael had too many distractions with his life at the time,” Damon recalls. “At times he was totally focused, and other times it was just a vacant stare.”
He had a cameo in the 2004 fantasy comedy Miss Castaway and the Island Girls (he played “a Vatican agent projected by an R2-D2-like droid”) and later starred in the 2009 concert doc Michael Jackson’s This Is It, which was released after his death and grossed $261 million worldwide.
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The Green Knight