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Sony’s Michael Jackson Bet Gets Complicated Michael Jackson had been one of Sony Music Entertainment’s brightest stars before his 2009 death. And the seven-year, $250 million deal it struck with Jackson’s estate in 2018 to continue distributing his recordings was one of the biggest the industry had seen in some time. But now, following the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, Sony’s Jackson bet is looking like a risky play, the WSJ reports. The two-part film (which was the third-largest premiere of any HBO doc in a decade) details the claims of two men alleging Jackson sexually abused them as boys. And in the era of #MeToo and #MuteRKelly, sales, streaming, and commercial use of Jackson’s music could fall... Which means lost business for Sony. Several radio stations in Canada and New Zealand have stopped playing Jackson, and (believe it or not) radio is still a big moneymaker for music companies—Deloitte estimates global radio revenue will climb to $40 billion this year, with more than 85% of adults listening to radio once a week.
In the new HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, both men accuse the late singer of sexual abuse. On Sunday, HBO will debut its two-part documentary Leaving Neverland, featuring interviews with two of Michael Jackson's former child companions. The documentary focuses on James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who filed lawsuits claiming they were sexually abused as boys at the Neverland Ranch. It also follows their families, who speak at length about their entanglement with Jackson, in the aftermath of the scandal. According to Slate, Safechuck and Robson both say in the film that Jackson promised them jewelry in exchange for sexual favors. The men also allege that Jackson, who died in 2009, told them they could go to jail if they spoke out. These accusations weren't new. On two other occasions, Jackson was hit with lawsuits alleging abuse. But in 2005, Jackson was acquitted of criminal molestation charges, which did not involve Robson or Safechuck. Robson testified at the trial, saying he had slept in Jackson’s room many times and nothing happened. Safechuck gave a similar statement to investigators when he was young.