The 2015 Black List, the annual rundown of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays, was revealed on Monday, and the top vote-getter was an unlikely choice: A biopic about Bubbles, the chimpanzee that was adopted by Michael Jackson in 1983. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plot for Bubbles finds the chimp “narrating his own story” and “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.”
Jackson adopted Bubbles from an Austin, Texas research facility in 1983, eventually settling at the Neverland Ranch. A source of derision throughout the Eighties, Bubbles was frequently seen at Jackson’s side at public events and video shoots and was even rumored to sleep in a crib in Jackson’s room at the Neverland Ranch. Jackson poked fun at the controversy over Bubbles in his “Leave Me Alone” video, a tabloid-taunting clip where one of the headlines read “Michael Confides in Pet Chimp.”
In 2003, Jackson revealed that he had given Bubbles to a California trainer because the chimpanzee became overaggressive; Bubbles was later transferred to a monkey sanctuary in Florida where he remains today. While the Jackson estate would likely never allow a biopic that focused on the King of Pop’s “scandals,” telling the Jackson story through the eyes of his beloved pet is an interesting, unique narrative device.
The Isaac Adamson-penned script received 44 votes among the 500 executives polled for the Black List, placing it ahead of biopics about Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman – Stronger, which has since been picked up with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role – and Rocket* about former Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens. The Hollywood Reporter notes that eight of the last 16 Oscar-winning scripts originated from the Black List, as did two of 2015’s frontrunners, The Revenant and Spotlight.