Directed by journalist, music historian and filmmaker Nelson George, the film is currently in production. It will center on the making of the record-breaking album and the release of the accompanying short films that redefined the music video format.
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Released by Epic Records in 1982, Thriller was Jackson’s second studio album as a solo artist. It went on to capture 12 Grammy nominations and a record-setting eight wins, including album of the year. The album also garnered seven top 10 singles on the Hot 100 chart, with “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” both achieving No. 1. Since its debut, Thriller has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and became the first album to be certified triple diamond by the RIAA.
Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews, the untitled documentary focuses on how the album launched Jackson into mega-stardom and created a pop culture phenomenon that continues to influence the worlds of music, television, dance, fashion and more.
“The release of Thriller redefined Michael Jackson, taking him from teen star to adult superstar, who composed memorable songs, sang beautifully and reached the highest level of on-stage performance,” said George in a statement. “The album, and the short films they inspired, created a new template for marrying music and image. It’s been a privilege to explore this extraordinary album and revisit its magic.”
Back in May, Sony and Jackson’s estate announced the release of Thriller 40 on Nov. 18. The double-CD set includes the original Thriller album along with a bonus disc of never-before-released tracks Jackson had worked on for the album.
The Optimum Productions and Sony Music Entertainment documentary, produced by Company Name, joins Bad 25 and Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall as the third documentary film to focus on a Jackson album. Additional productions celebrating his impact include the 2009 film This Is It, Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and MJ The Musical on Broadway.
“Michael opened and explored emotional depths and pushed the boundaries of sonic innovation on Thriller,” said John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate. “In the process, he breached destructive barriers in the music industry and literally united the world through his music: there isn’t a place on this planet that hasn’t been exhilarated by the music of Michael Jackson. This documentary’s exploration of Michael’s process and impact is revelatory.”
“Michael Jackson’s Thriller marked a momentous and pivotal moment in both music and pop culture around the world,” added Tom Mackay, president of premium content at Sony Music Entertainment. “We’re excited to expand the estate’s documentary collection with our upcoming film and look forward to sharing it with fans around the world.”
Sony Music Entertainment is distributing the film. Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart from Company Name are producers while Branca and McClain are executive producers.