Director Taika Waititi boards Bubbles, animated movie about Michael Jackson's chimp

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer
Taika Waititi directs Chris Hemsworth in Marvel’s upcoming ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (credit: Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios)

Taika Waititi is nothing if not unpredictable. After making his name directing indie comedies ‘Eagle Vs Shark,’ ‘Boy,’ ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ and most recently ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople,’ the New Zealand actor, writer and director is breaking through to the big leagues this year with Marvel’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ – and it seems his next feature will be equally unexpected.

Screen Daily reports that Waititi has signed on to ‘Bubbles,’ a stop-motion animated movie based on the life of Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, who lived closely with the late pop legend from 1988 until 2004 – throughout the most troubled, controversial period of Jackson’s life.

Waititi will co-direct with Mark Gustafson (animation director of Wes Anderson’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’). The film is being produced by Starburns Industries, animation house behind Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s 2015 film ‘Anomalisa.’

There’s been a lot of buzz around ‘Bubbles’ for some time. The original screenplay from writer Isaac Adamson took the number one spot on 2015’s Black List, a renowned poll of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood.

Explaining what drew him to the film, Waititi explains, “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.”

Michael Jackson and Bubbles (Credit: Newscom)

The director continues, “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. I really loved ‘Anomalisa’ because it was beautiful and authentic in its meditation on loneliness. I’m really excited to be working with Dan Harmon and Starburns as we share similar sensibilities and want to tell human stories in unique and artistic ways.”

Co-director Gustafson adds, “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. Plus it’s a monkey. Who doesn’t like a monkey?”

No release dates or potential casting for ‘Bubbles’ have been announced yet. In the meantime, Waititi’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ opens in UK cinemas on 27 October.

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