Actor and stellar director Taika Waititi has stepped away from his movie, Bubbles, which tracks the Michael Jackson story through the eyes of his pet chimpanzee. During the past couple of years, the 43-year-old has been passionate about seeing Bubbles' fascinating journey through the complex jungle of human life.
But this week, Hollywood publication Cartoon Brew reports he has pulled out of the project. As a result, Netflix, which made a deal to acquire the film in 2017 for a reported $20 million, has backed out.
When asked about the film in an interview two weeks ago, Waititi told Deadline: "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***ing brilliant script, though. It's so cool to look at the idea of telling a story like this through the eyes of a chimpanzee.
"But right now I'm finishing two other features — one which I'm looking to do this year — and finishing Jojo [Rabbit], and there are a couple of TV shows I'm developing. There are about two or three that I mentioned to the press, and they're way back on my backburner."
When pressed further, he said: "Yeah, but I've actually had to start pulling out of other things, because I was just becoming too busy. And so even doing something like that delays everything else. Even with an animated movie, it turns out, you have to be pretty present."
Pundits in the US have speculated whether Waititi and Netflix were swayed by a recent Michael Jackson backlash after the HBO documentary Finding Neverland where two men alleged, they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were boys.
Waititi's schedule is indeed mega-busy and he has never been afraid of broaching dark subject matter. In Spring, he will be part of the press junket roll-out of Jojo Rabbit, in which he stars with Rebel Wilson.
The film is loosely adapted by Waititi from a Christine Leunens' novel set in wartime Germany. It's about a little boy whose steadfast commitment to the Nazi party is thrown into chaos when he discovers his mother is harbouring a Jewish girl in their attic.
Waititi plays the boy's imaginary best friend, described as a Waititian version of Adolf Hitler.
Earlier last month, he announced the American version of What We Do in the Shadows had been renewed for a second series.
There have been reports that Waititi will be back in the director's chair as soon as next month, starting work in California on his live-action adaptation of Akira, the Japanese comic series.