Taika Waititi has pulled out of a planned animated movie about Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee Bubbles.
The Thor: Ragnarok filmmaker and Mark Gustafson signed on to co-direct the project back in February 2017, with the rights later acquired by bosses at Netflix for a reported $20 million (£15 million).
However, editors at website Cartoon Brew reported on Thursday that Waititi was abandoning Bubbles due to scheduling conflicts, as he is also currently developing a live-action version of Japanese graphic novel Akira.
In addition, it was reported that Netflix is dropping the film from its slate too, as it was no longer a good fit for the streaming service without Waititi attached.
Written by Isaac Adamson, the script for Bubbles topped The Black List – an annual survey of “most liked” screenplays not yet produced – in 2015. The concept was focused on exploring Jackson’s life from Bubble’s perspective, and when he first announced his commitment to the movie, Waititi explained that he was “fascinated” by the idea.
“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,” the 43-year-old commented. “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.”
Yet, Gustafson recently dropped out of co-directing Bubbles so he could focus on working on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming Pinocchio project, and in an interview with Deadline earlier this month, Waititi admitted that the feature was moving at a slow pace.
“That script has been around for a long time, and it’s a little bit stuck in the early stages of trying to figure out what it could be and what it would look like. It’s a f**king brilliant script, though,” he stated.
New Zealand-born Waititi has now completed production on his latest film Jojo Rabbit, and also helmed an episode of upcoming Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
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