Taika Waititi and Netflix exit movie about Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles

Ben Arnold
Singer Michael Jackson enjoys a cup of tea with his pet Bubbles at Osaka City Mayoral Hall on September 18, 1987 in Osaka, Japan. (Credit: Sankei Archive via Getty Images)

Bubbles, the planned stop-motion movie about Michael Jackson's pet chimp, could be in peril.

Thor: Ragnarok helmsman Taika Waititi, who was set to direct it, and Netflix, which was set to distribute, have both exited the project.

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According to Cartoon Brew, Waititi had to walk due to scheduling clashes with his forthcoming plan to make a live-action version of Manga classic Akira.

The report adds that Netflix followed because Waititi's involvement was key to their interest in the project.

Taika Waititi (Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The movie was to be made by Starburns, which made the Oscar-nominated, critically acclaimed stop-motion movie Anomalisa, and was already said to be some way into pre-production, with 'two dozen people working on puppet fabrication and animation tests'.

Waititi spoke about his involvement in the movie, penned by Isaac Adamson, back in 2017, saying: “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.

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“It’s about a chimpanzee’s fascinating journey through the complex jungle of human life.”

Since then, of course, the documentary Leaving Neverland was released by HBO, in which two men who met Jackson as children detailed claims of prolonged sexual abuse, something that could easily have had a bearing on the movie's future.