Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Being Developed as a Feature Film

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 11:17 pm,

michael jackson thriller movie Michael Jacksons Thriller Being Developed as a Feature Film

You’d be hard-pressed to find another music video as iconic, influential, or beloved as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The fourteen-minute opus was directed by horror maestro John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and has been endlessly spoofed, referenced, and revered.

Written by Rod Temperton and produced by the legendary Quincy Jones, the song “Thriller” was the seventh single released from Jackson’s 1982 album of the same name. Nearly every person on this planet knows that bass line, has attempted that dance, and would recognize that red leather jacket anywhere.

With that level of public awareness, it’s surprising that plans to turn Thriller into a feature film are only now coming to fruition. Deadline reports that GK Films is currently negotiating for the rights to the project and that Fox 2000, Mandate/Lionsgate, and Summit are involved as well. Evidently the acquisition is expected to come with a hefty price tag, but the budget for the film itself will be under $50 million.

The Hangover screenwriter Jeremy Garelick is set to pen the script and Kenny Ortega, best known for helming Disney’s popular High School Musical movies, is attached to direct. Ortega collaborated with Jackson on what would have been his final round of performances – a concert series titled This Is It. After Jackson’s death, Ortega turned rehearsal footage from the production into the film Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

According to Deadline, the Thriller movie “has to do with the song’s folklore, involving Vincent Price and the town he grew up in.” It’s an intentionally vague description, but it does seem to suggest that this (fortunately) won’t just be a feature length remake of the video.

As for the song’s folklore, who really knows what that means? The lyrics to Thriller mention zombies, aliens, demons, and ghouls – so there are a number of directions they could choose to go in. There’s not really a narrative through line, but I suppose if Hollywood can adapt board games nothing is off limits.

A Thriller movie sans-Jackson seems like an unusual proposition (the Broadway musical he gave his blessing to made more sense), and I’ll be honest – I wasn’t that impressed with the brief glimpse we got of Ortega’s staging of the song in This Is It.

The music video works so well because it was a groundbreaking combination of pop music and cinema – not because any of the horror elements were particularly revolutionary. In fact, the cinematography, effects, and voice overs seemed to be intentionally kitschy. That was part of its appeal.

A Thriller movie isn’t the only Michael Jackson project on the horizon - Deadline also mentions that Cirque du Soleil is planning two live shows based on his music and that Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock are interested in making a film centered around the King of Pop’s early years.

I suppose I should reserve judgment until we get more details, but at the moment an Ortega-directed Thriller film seems like one of the more blatant cash-grabs in recent memory. I’ve never once watched that video and thought to myself, “That was great – I could really use another eighty minutes of this.” But you can decide for yourself. Here’s Thriller in its entirety:

Source: Deadline.

TAGS: Thriller
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  1. I think I might be sick. Is there no limits to the sheer depths of depravity that Holywood will sink?
    Why use a 30 year old music video (however great it is) for the basis of a film. There is so little originality in Hollywood that it actually makes me angryu, I know people that have so many great ideas and what do we get instead, remakes, reboots and tripe like this.

    • oh dear lord……DSB, ive all but lost hope for us American blokes

  2. Haha. It was only a matter of time. Pretty sure I’ll be in the isle dancing :D (Yes, I know the entire “Thriller” dance)

  3. Jeeze, whats next??? A “reimagining” of Purple Rain? Scoot over Doc, I’m gonna hurl too…

    • …yellow submarine

      • Oh…OH MANNNNN…(gag)…no more fooph…(wretch)…(cough)…no more…(Expires)

    • What you’re more likely to get is a musical/drama “The Colour of Purple Rain”.

  4. I am less than thrilled about this…

  5. OMG hollywood is going to the dogs…

    • Going?! That boat sailed years ago. Hollywood is filled with suits who care only about money. Bring in a young guy with a great original idea, they tell him to go to the independent companies overseas. 2012 is coming soon.

  6. Thriller is, was and always will be Michael Jacksons. Leave it alone. They sure no how to upset fans!!! No No No No No!!!!!!!

  7. Michael Jackson is turning in his grave right now. SHAKE MY HEAD HOLLYWOOD

  8. there tryin 2 bring michael jackson back from the dead 2 play a zombie

  9. I for one DO NOT want to see a Thriller movie, but i DO want to thank Screenrant for posting the entire video, It’s been a longgggg time since i saw it

  10. I’m a huge fan of “Thriller,” but I will not go see a movie based on the video — definitely not a movie directed by Kenny Ortega.
    I already have the video and I’ve seen it plenty of times and will continue to go to it when I need my “Thriller” fix.
    If Jackson were still around and there was going to be a “Thriller” movie with his involvement, I would still cringe, but eventually I might go see it, only because the main spirit behind it was still around.
    Now? It’s strictly a hack job, a money-grab and nothing else. I don’t see this “movie” being something of quality, something that will resonate, something that will surpass what the video has achieved.
    I honestly hope this movie flops. I hope that Michael Jackson fans know better and avoid seeing it.

  11. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    It’s as simple as that.
    When you “remake” something, it should be because the original was not up to par or could be modernized…’Thriller’ is 100% fine the way it is and I honestly wouldn’t want to see it without Michael Jackson or Vincent Price, so…what’s the point?

  12. Why would it be “Sacred”?
    It’s thriller. It’s cheesy, outdated, too often imitated and it set zombies back years. It’s the Adam West Batman of zombies.
    I agree I don’t want to see a movie based on Thriller, but not because it’s some “Sacred cow”. There’s no way this could have any kind of artistic merit. Because it didn’t in the first place!

  13. So basically we’re going to get a really bad zombie movie with a Michael Jackson soundtrack.


  14. (With apologies to the late Vincent Price, and to composer Rod Temperton)

    Darkness falls across the land
    The story conference is close at hand
    Studio suits seek to drain the blood
    Of creative folks in Hollywood…

    And whosoever shall be tripped
    Up by an ingenious script
    Must stand and face the Studio Boss
    Who has the originality of dental floss!

    The foulest stench is in the air
    The funk of forty thousand tries
    And grisly ghouls suffering from desperation
    Are closing in to steal your inspiration;
    And though you fight to stay quite sane
    Your body stiffens like a pillar…
    For no mere Cameron-wannabe can resist
    The ripping-off of “Thriller”…

    BWAHHHH-hahahahahaha! AHHHH-hahahahahaha!

    • Very poetic… lol

    • LOL! well said!

  15. Awesome! I would definitely watch this movie. I hope they would feature MJ’s original part on it too.


      • He must be hes “thrilled” lmao!

  16. I personally think that I am the biggest Michael Jackson fan in the world. So I am sure there are many that feel the same. I love this man and his spirit is very much alive in my home. However, to make any kind of movie without Michael is not right the spirit of the man will not be in it. That is one of the things that made him great his spirit. In his book moonwalk he talks against being over exposed he says it is not good people will get tired and this is what Holly wood is doing in his name. Let him rest and feel him threw the art that he has left for us. No one can play him, and I would know right away that it was a fake and not want to see it. Because it take more than dance to be Michael you cant imitate him. Cant be done

    • you know it.its nice to know others feel the same as i do.god bless you girl! Forever+ michael rest in peace.

  17. yes if actor can find then you can make the film otherwise not

  18. I want to act for him

  19. MJ is the king. When i listen to his tracks i feel as he is still alive. Surely one of the biggest pop music stars ever!