Controversial Michael Jackson Doc 'Leaving Neverland' Premieres On HBO In March

The 4-hour Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland caused a stir at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The troubling film chronicles the stories of two men who claim they were both sexually abused as children over long periods of time by the world-famous Jackson. Fans of the late King of Pop were angry, claiming (without seeing the film) that Leaving Neverland was a smear campaign. While the threatened protests never arose, the experience of watching Leaving Neverland left Sundance audiences stunned, with many critics proclaiming the film to be extremely difficult to watch due to its shocking subject matter. Now, the doc will head to HBO next month. See the Leaving Neverland premiere date below.

Word has arrived that Leaving Neverland, a documentary chronicling sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, will debut on March 3 and March 4 on HBO. The two-part documentary runs 236 minutes total, so you might want to clear your schedule.

I missed Leaving Neverland at Sundance, but based on everything I've heard, the film is both a must-see and also hard to watch. Early buzz said the film would leave people "appalled", "sick to their stomachs", "incredibly emotional" and "devastating." In short, this is not an uplifting documentary. But more than that, critics have said the movie plays as credible. While it's worth noting Jackson was never convicted of molestation, the evidence presented in Leaving Neverland is apparently very compelling, and convincing.

Leaving Neverland "explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James 'Jimmy' Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. They and their families were invited into his wondrous world, entranced by the singer's fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak...Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, Leaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own."

This is clearly going to make for an uncomfortable viewing experience, but it also sounds like an important movie, and one worth devoting your time to. You can draw your own conclusions about Jackson's guilt, or lack thereof. The Michael Jackson Estate has called the documentary "tabloid character assassination", stating: "The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. "

Responding to the Michael Jackson Estate, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed said, "This is not a story about Michael Jackson. It's a story about child sexual abuse that happened to two families whose lives intersected with Jackson. The fact that the abuser is Michael Jackson gives the film a reach and a relevance that I welcome. But it's a story of grooming and pedophilia. That could be the story of any predator who inserts himself into a family and gets them to trust him."