(AllHipHop News) While Leaving Neverland has become a very contentious topic, the documentary pulled in good numbers for HBO. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the first night drew one of the biggest audiences for a doc aired on the premium channel in the 2010s.
The Sunday night edition of Leaving Neverland averaged 1.29 million viewers for its first airing. That total is the third-largest HBO documentary viewership this decade behind 2015's Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (1.7 million) and 2017's Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (1.6 million).
Part one of Dan Reed's four-hour film amassed 1.7 million viewers across all platforms. The documentary's two-day average came in at 1.11 million viewers.
Leaving Neverland covers Wade Robson and James Safechuck's accusations of pedophilia and sexual abuse against legendary music artist Michael Jackson. The late Pop/R&B singer's family members have vehemently denied all the allegations.
"I want them to understand and know that this documentary is not telling the truth. There has not been not one piece of evidence that corroborates their story," said Michael's brother Marlon Jackson. The family contends Robson and Safechuck are seeking financial benefits from the so-called made-up story.
Leaving Neverland director Reed is standing by the alleged victims. He has stated, "If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to. It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity."
Robson, Safechuck, and Reed also appeared on an Oprah Winfrey-hosted television special titled After Neverland which followed the broadcast of the doc. After Neverland brought in 780,000 viewers on HBO.
Michael Jackson's estate and Optimum Productions is suing HBO and its parent company Time Warner over Leaving Neverland. The $100 million lawsuit claims the network violated a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract with MJ.
"In those non-disparagement provisions, HBO promised that 'HBO shall not make any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer,'" reads the complaint. "Other provisions in the Agreement require HBO to notify and consult with Jackson and Optimum Productions if it wishes to air additional programming about Jackson."