Despite being attached to the project since 2017, Taika Waititi is now no longer directing Bubbles, a movie about Michael Jackson's chimpanzee. Waititi's involvement with the Bubbles movie, a stop-motion animated effort, was first announced in early 2017. With the acclaimed director onboard, Netflix swooped in and acquired the rights to the film in May of that year. By November 2017, Marvel Studios had released Thor: Ragnarok to widespread raves, greatly increasing Waititi's name recognition both within the industry and with moviegoers.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Waititi will eventually direct another entry into the MCU, his next feature as a director, Jojo Rabbit, hits theaters this fall. A bizarre comedy set during World War II, Jojo Rabbit actually casts Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself) as a little German boy's imaginary friend. As strange as that sounds, Waititi's filmography so far has earned him the trust of enough people to make such an off-the-wall concept viable.
Unfortunately for the still living chimpanzee Bubbles, Waititi will no longer be helming his biopic. First reported by animation-focused outlet Cartoon Brew, the What We Do in the Shadows director has departed the film. Netflix has also backed out of the Bubbles project, as Waititi's involvement was the primary reason they agreed to produce the film in the first place. For now, pre-production on Bubbles at Los Angeles-based animation studio Starburns has ended, and it remains to be seen whether any other company will decide to come in and take it over.
According to Cartoon Brew's report, Waititi stepped down as Bubbles' director due to scheduling conflicts, although it's unclear what caused the conflict. Either way, the Starburns employees that were working on Bubbles' pre-production are said to be none too pleased at being suddenly laid off, especially since some of them reportedly turned down other in-demand jobs to work with Waititi. Sadly, sudden job loss is a common occurrence in Hollywood, as projects are often canceled or ended in an instant.
Reports of scheduling conflicts aside, one wonders if the recent HBO documentary Leaving Neverland had anything to do with Bubbles' demise. The documentary, focusing on the accounts of two men that allege they were sexually abused by Jackson as boys, was emotionally harrowing, and reopened the debate around how exactly Jackson should be seen in a historical context, and whether his amazing musical talents should be considered separately from the horrible things he's accused of doing privately. While Bubbles was set to specifically be about the chimp, the shadow of Michael Jackson would've still loomed large over the movie.
Source: Cartoon Brew