Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi has signed up to co-direct Bubbles, an off-beat biopic about Michael Jackson‘s pet chimpanzee. The Isaac Adamson-penned screenplay previously won first place on the 2015 Black List, Hollywood’s annual rundown of the best unproduced scripts.
While a short film starring Joseph Fiennes as the King of Pop was condemned by fans and Paris Jackson and ultimately pulled from broadcast, Bubbles won’t face similar criticism over the casting of Jackson: The movie will be a stop-motion film that combines 3D printing and puppetry, much like Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa, the Hollywood Reporter writes.
“It’s an idea that fascinates me and one I want to develop further. Most people know I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, so the main thing for me is to make sure it’s respectful of him and his legacy,” Waititi said in a statement; one of the director’s earliest films, Boy, was about a Jackson-obsessed child. Waititi also directed the acclaimed What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
“I’m not interested in making a biopic; I want to focus on telling a story that blends fact and fantasy, about an animal trying to make sense of the world. This film is not about Michael Jackson because that’s not a story for me to tell – or a story I’d be comfortable telling – it’s about a chimpanzee’s fascinating journey through the complex jungle of human life. I think animation is the only way to approach a story like this.”
Co-directing alongside Waititi will be animation director Mark Gustafson, who previously worked on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and the upcoming stop-motion Pinocchio.
“Bubbles, the chimp, had a front row seat and a truly unique perspective on the pop culture phenomenon of Michael Jackson. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with this great team to bring his story to life,” Gustafson said in a statement. “Plus it’s a monkey. Who doesn’t love a monkey?”
In March 2016, Dan Harmon announced his Starburn Industries would produce the Bubbles film; he’s still on board as producer.
“A baby chimp is adopted by the pop star Michael Jackson. Narrating his own story, Bubbles the Chimp details his life within The King of Pop’s inner circle through the scandals that later rocked Jackson’s life and eventually led to Bubbles’ release,” the film’s synopsis stated.
The now-33-year-old Bubbles currently resides at the Center for Great Apes monkey sanctuary in Florida.