May 18, 2017


'Bubbles': Netflix Buys Michael Jackson Biopic Told From Pet Chimp's Point-of-View

Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

They're not stopping until Michael Jackson gets his life movie-and-TV-ified six ways to Sunday, people. Two days after the trailer for Lifetime's Searching for Neverland biopic, there's news that Netflix is working on "a whopper of a deal" to purchase Bubbles.

With the pieces in place, we can see why they're attracted to this spin on MJ's tale. It's told from the perspective of Bubbles himself, Jackson's famous chimpanzee pal. Wikipedia research is bad and everything, but you only have to read the first few sentences of Bubbles' entry to know this has the makings of an awfully eventful and imaginative film. (And a tragic one—after nearly 20 years together, Bubbles was sent away from Jackson's Neverland Ranch to a trainer when he became a more aggressive adult.)

To add an extra dollop of intrigue, Bubbles will be a stop motion animation film from directors Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Mark Gustafson, Wes Anderson's animation director on 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Isaac Adamson's script led the 2015 Black List, the yearly survey that ranks the most exciting unproduced screenplays circulating in Hollywood. (The 2016 Black List–topper, Elyse Hollander's Blond Ambition, a biopic about the Queen of Pop, Madonna, went into development last month.)

Jim Smeal/WireImage
Jim Smeal/WireImage

We haven't read the script so can't say if this device will make it to the Netflix version or not, but Adamson told last year that his aha moment for the story was when "a lightbulb just went off: What if Bubbles spoke with a pseudo-Shakespearean voice and believed himself to be the heir of the King of Pop?” He also spoke about the film getting the animated angle when it was acquired by Dan Harmon's Starburns Industries, which did Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's Oscar-nominated Anomalisa:

“The brand of hyper-realistic stop-motion animation pioneered in Anomalisa, besides looking amazing, solves a lot of the practical puzzles in turning this script into an actual film, like how do we find an actor who looks like Michael Jackson, how do we train a chimpanzee to do the moonwalk, how can we recreate Neverland without spending a bajillion dollars.”

For more on chimp companions, watch Justin Bieber's mother, Pattie Mallette, talk about her son's little bud: