Leaving Neverland: everything we know about the new Michael Jackson documentary

Lela London
- Hulton Archive
- Hulton Archive

A troubling trailer for Leaving Neverland - the explosive new Michael Jackson documentary - has just been released, offering the first look at the two-part testimonial of two men alleging Michael Jackson sexually abused them as children.

Despite legal threats from Michael Jackson's estate, the four-hour film will show James “Jimmy” Safechuck and Wade Robson sharing intimate details from their time spent with the superstar and - as images of Robson fighting back tears in the trailer might suggest - their stories are expected to be unsettling.

When is the Michael Jackson documentary on TV?

In the UK, Leaving Neverland will air on Channel 4 on Wednesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 7 2019. It will be shown on HBO in the US on Sunday, March 3 and Monday, March 4.

You can read our 5* review of the documentary here, and our comment piece by Neil McCormick here.

What is the Leaving Neverland documentary about?

Leaving Neverland explores the separate but parallel experiences of two men who were both befriended by Jackson as young boys - Safechuck, at age 10, and Robson, at age seven.

The interview-led documentary with the pair, now in their 30s and 40s, recalls stories from trips to the singer’s fairy-tale Neverland Ranch to confronting their experiences at that time.

After years of therapy, both men have decided to speak out and face the inevitable wrath of fans and lawyers who believe they're betraying the legacy of an icon.

The estate of Michael Jackson has already issued a statement denouncing the film as "yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson."

Michael Jackson leaving the Santa Barbara county courthouse in 2005 after a former employee of his Neverland ranch took the stand to dispute the testimony of a maid who claimed the pop star inappropriately touched actor Macaulay Culkin and other boys - Credit: Phil Klein/Reuters
Michael Jackson leaving the Santa Barbara county courthouse in 2005 after a former employee of his Neverland ranch took the stand to dispute the testimony of a maid who claimed the pop star inappropriately touched actor Macaulay Culkin and other boys Credit: Phil Klein/Reuters

What happened in the Leaving Neverland trailer?

In a series of photos, videos and interviews, the documentary trailer shows different moments the young boys spent with Michael Jackson.

Over shots of the singer's Neverland Ranch, Safechuck says: "Everyone wanted to meet Michael or be with Michael and you're just star-struck, and then he likes you."

Robson recalls: "I was seven years old. Michael asked, ‘Do you and the family want to come to Neverland?'

"The days were filled with magical childhood adventure experiences, playing tag, watching movies, eating junk food, anything you could ever want as a child."

After flashing a picture of Robson with Jackson as a child, it cuts to him as an adult - eyes filled with tears.

A separate birthday message shows Michael smiling as he says: "Hello Wade. Today is your birthday. So congratulations. I love you. Goodbye."

Robson then says: "He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives." 

Who is in Leaving Neverland?

The documentary focuses on the stories of James 'Jimmy' Safechuck and Wade Robson, who both formed friendships with Michael Jackson as children. Other known interviews include their family members and partners.

Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck pose for a portrait to promote Leaving Neverland during the Sundance Film Festival - Credit: Taylor Jewell
Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck pose for a portrait to promote Leaving Neverland during the Sundance Film Festival Credit: Taylor Jewell

Who are James Safechuck and Wade Robson?

Wade Robson and James Safechuck filed a civil action lawsuit against the Jackson estate in 2015, claiming both had been sexually abused by the eccentric celebrity.

Safechuck met Jackson, age nine, when they appeared in a Pespi commercial together. He went on to accompany the singer on most of his Bad tour and, almost 30 years later, accused the singer of molesting him nearly 100 times.

In court filings, Safechuck claimed that he took part in the secret ceremony in which he received a wedding certificate and a ring as confirmation of their 'undying love.'

A young Wade Robson with Michael Jackson, who he met at the age of five
A young Wade Robson with Michael Jackson, who he met at the age of five

Australian choreographer Wade Robson was five years old when he met Michael Jackson and actually testified in his defence after Jackson was charged with child sexual abuse in 2005.

Robson said he had slept in Jackson's bedroom several times but had never been molested.

Following the star's death, Robson approached the Jackson estate for a job to direct The Immortal World Tour in 2011. He was not selected.

During the Safechuck and Robson's 2016 legal proceedings, a motion to compel Robson suggested he had begun to shop a book deal in 2012 that would claim he was sexually abused by Jackson.

After the civil lawsuit that followed, Howard Weitzman - lawyer for Jackson's estate - called Robson's accusations "outrageous and pathetic".

Read more: If you thought Michael Jackson was odd, wait until you meet his superfans