Dan Reed’s film for HBO and Channel 4 saw Park City police increasing its presence around the Egyptian Theatre ahead of the screening, anticipating angry protests from loyal Jackson fans.
Reed previously directed The Paedophile Hunter (2014), a Bafta-winning film about vigilante Stinson Hunter’s attempts to entrap child abusers online.
FIlm critics reported audience members emerging shellshocked after watching the four-hour film, which is shown in two, two-hour segments.
Leaving Neverland features interviews from two men – James Safechuck and Wade Robson – and their families, who detail “a portrait of sustained exploitation and deception, documenting the power of celebrity that allowed a revered figure to infiltrate the lives of starstruck children and their parents”.
“On a 10-min break halfway through Sundance’s 4-hour Michael Jackson child sex abuse documentary,” Daily Beast senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon tweeted. “Whatever you thought you knew or were aware of, the content of this is more disturbing than you could imagine. And again, we’re only halfway through.”
Jackson’s estate has condemned the documentary, calling it “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson”.
“Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them,” the statement continued.
“Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception,’ filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.
“This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in a 2005 trial. In 1993, the singer was publicly accused of molesting an underage boy before agreeing to a financial settlement. Lawsuits filed by Robson and Safechuck were both dismissed.
Many will be wondering if they will be able to watch the documentary for themselves.
Channel 4 has confirmed it will air in two 90-minute episodes over two consecutive nights at 9pm, on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 March.
In the US, the film will air on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 March on HBO.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies