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'Leaving Neverland' trailer reveals just how controversial the Michael Jackson documentary really is

Two weeks before its public release, HBO has released a chilling new trailer

Michael Jackson leaves the courtroom on a break at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for the second day of closing arguments in his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, California in 2005. AFP
Michael Jackson leaves the courtroom on a break at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for the second day of closing arguments in his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, California in 2005. AFP

Leaving Neverland, a two-part, four-hour documentary that explores sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, premiered less than a month ago at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and will air to the public on March 3 and 4 on HBO and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

It's a film that has seriously divided opinion. Michael Jackson's estate doesn't want anyone to see it. A league of superfans debunk it (as you can see if you read the trailer's comments).

But critics called it "devastating", "complicated" and "heartbreaking when it premiered at Sundance in January. Now, with fewer than two weeks to go until it airs, HBO has released a new trailer that sheds more light on the chilling film.

Watch the full trailer here:

The documentary focuses on two men who claim the "King of Pop" abused them as children at the Neverland Ranch. It features on-camera interviews, with testimonies from family members, as well as old footage of Jackson, and runs with a disclaimer about "graphic" descriptions: these shocked audiences when it aired at Sundance.

This new trailer gives viewers a sneak peek of what's to come. "Everybody wanted to meet Michael or be with Michael," says Wade Robson, one of the two accusers featured in the film, in the opening moments. "And then he likes you."

"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."

Then he adds: "[Jackson] told me that if anyone ever found out what we were doing he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives."

Michael Jackson's estate called HBO's decision to air the documentary "disgraceful". The 10-page letter, written by estate attorney Howard Weitzman, attempts to discredit the stories of the two men, Robson and James Safechuck, offering court filings and story inconsistencies.

Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck pose for a portrait to promote the film 'Leaving Neverland'. AP
Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck pose for a portrait to promote the film 'Leaving Neverland'. AP

It claims Robson had tried to get a job on a Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil show and raised the molestation allegations only after he wasn't hired.

HBO said it planned to go ahead with the release, however, saying in a statement: "Our plans remain unchanged ... Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors' accounts. People should reserve judgment until they see the film."

Reed told Variety: "This is not a movie about Michael Jackson.

"This is not a movie about Michael Jackson abusing little boys.

"It's a movie about two families and how two families came to terms with what their sons revealed to them many years after Jackson died."

Updated: February 20, 2019 10:31 AM

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