Upcoming HBO Doc on Michael Jackson Focuses on Late Megastar’s Alleged Sex Crimes

January 25, 2019, 11:40 PM UTC

Michael Jackson, whose music remains ubiquitous nearly a decade after his death, is under fresh scrutiny.

The singer’s alleged sexual crimes are being re-examined in a four-hour documentary screening Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie, Leaving Neverland, was shown under police presence—an unusual circumstance for the festival.

During breaks from the screening, critics suggested that the allegations—based on accounts from Jackson’s accusers—may be explosive. It’s slated to air on HBO later this year.

“It’s so sexually explicit that counselors are in the lobby,” Mara Reinstein, film critic at Us Weekly, said on Twitter.

For the music industry, the documentary brings a fresh test of how to deal with controversial artists. Just last week, Sony Corp.’s RCA label scrubbed R. Kelly from its lineup. The R&B singer was also the subject of a high-profile documentary, which included accounts of alleged sex crimes.

In the case of Jackson, the stakes may be higher. He’s one of the best-selling artists of all time and remains a staple of streaming services.

The artist’s estate has sought to quash Leaving Neverland, and his official Twitter account slammed HBO for agreeing to air the film.

“In 1992, Michael gave HBO their highest rated special ever,” the tweet read. “Now, to repay him they give a voice to admitted liars.”