'Leaving Neverland' Director Dan Reed has responded to criticism from Michael Jackson's family following the two-part documentary's weekend Sundance premiere.
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the Jackson estate said:
"The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact," the statement read.
"Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family — that is the Jackson way. But we can't just stand by while this public lynching goes on. … Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise, these allegations would not have been made."
But Reed is standing by his documentary, dismissing their claims.
"It is a four-hour documentary by an experienced documentarian with a long track record in investigation and telling complex stories, and this is a complex story," Reed told THR.
"So I'd say it's beyond doubt a documentary. Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary. A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? I didn't characterize Jackson at all in the film — I think if you watch it you'll have noticed that it's a story about these two families and Jackson is an element of that story. But I don't seek to characterize him at all. I don't comment on Jackson. It's not a film about Michael. ... The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life."
The film reportedly follows two adult accusers — Wade Robson and James Safechuck who detail their alleged relationships and abuse and the hands of Jackson.
"They have a very precious asset to protect," Reed says.
"Every time a song plays, a cash register goes 'ka-ching.' It doesn't surprise me that they've come out fighting in defense of their asset."
HBO will be premiering the doc in March premiere.