So I have some theories:
In the most recent episode of the MJ Cast, they interviewed the director of Sonic Fantasy. They were asking him about why certain people weren’t interviewed for his doc about Bruce Swedien and Thriller, such as Quincy Jones and Siedah Garret, as well as some others I can’t remember. And he said that he *did* either interview them, or have plans for interviews, but then several people had to withdraw. They asked him why and if it was because of LN (since he was producing the doc in 2019) and he said firmly that it was not and that he signed an NDA and could not share any details about it. He also mentioned several times how his documentary is a different take this Spike Lee’s album docs, and that he has the expectation that Sonic Fantasy will be on a major streaming service by the fall.
I bring all this up because my theory is that several people had to withdraw because they were already contractually bound to do a Spike Lee doc about Thriller and if the release date for the documentaries are around the same time then they would want them to be differentiated as much as possible. To me that makes sense.
My other theory is about the reasoning they are focusing on Thriller 40 instead of celebrating the anniversaries of HIStory and Dangerous. Since LN (and Covid, but especially LN in this case) derailed everything, I believe they are focusing on Thriller because it will *always* sell. Thriller will always be the primary era and album that brings in new Michael fans. It is an undeniable record-breaker with mass appeal and widely known by the general public. So as their first major release post-LN it makes sense, from a business standpoint, to focus on reminding the world of Thriller and who Michael was in that era, as well as its significance. Now that we are 3 years out from LN, the musical is hugely successful, and Michael’s popularity has grown a lot on social media, a big effort with Thriller could help *really* turn the tables for Michael, generating a swath of new fans, and therefore making the eventual Dangerous and HIStory projects much more successful. Right now it seems like only current fans know about those albums. But with a proper push, these projects wouldn’t only exist for the fans that have been around for a long time (who understandably crave non-Thriller projects) but they would be timed just right to ride the wave of a year-long Thriller campaign, some Tony Awards (fingers crossed), a biopic, and a number of documentaries, within the next couple years. Because as of right now, we know Sonic Fantasy is coming out and we hope a Spike Lee doc is coming out. But we also know that the director Jin Chohan is working on a 3 part doc called Trial by Media and Taj Jackson proclaims to be working on a series too, both of which focus on Michael’s innocence in one way or another.
So just imagine how all of these projects could collide in the next 1-3 years! Think about how many different ways Michael could be vindicated, both as a human being and as an artist if there are enough successful projects spaced out over time and from multiple sources, not just the MJ estate. The more the estate does for Thriller this year, the more successful everything else will be, and may even lead to major streaming releases for Jin and Taj’s projects, because ultimately streaming services only care about making money. If they know there is money in MJ, not just as a punching bag, but as someone with a major and current fan base, it will help a lot!
So these are my theories and they may be hopelessly idealistic lol. But I’m holding out hope!