‘Thriller’: How Michael Jackson’s Estate is Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Album

There hasn’t been a body of work quite as impactful as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album became the soundtrack of a generation, and remains the biggest release of not just his career, but in music history. Tales from the recording and creative process continue to inspire those who came behind him, and now fans will get an inside look into the Thriller mania in the form of a new documentary. The film is being created in honor of the album’s 40th anniversary.

Michael Jackson on stage; Jackson's estate is releasing a documentary on 'Thriller' for the 40th anniversary
Michael Jackson | Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison

‘Thriller’ is the greatest-selling album of all time

Released in 1982, Thriller is the sixth studio album released by Jackson. The album featured a string of hit singles, including the title track, “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Human Nature,” and “The Girl Is Mine,” the latter of which is a duet with Paul McCartney. Thriller was released through Epic Records and produced by Jackson’s longtime collaborator, Quincy Jones, who also produced his previous album, Off the Wall. The album sat at the No. 1 for an unprecedented 37 nonconsecutive weeks on the Billboard 200.

Source: YouTube

To date, the album has sold 34 million copies in the U.S., and an estimated 100 million copies worldwide. Jackson took home a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, including one for Album of the Year.

A documentary is being produced ahead of the album’s 40th anniversary

Deadline reports that a documentary film centered on the album is being produced by the esteemed cultural critic and music journalist, Nelson George. Per an official description, the film “takes fans back in time to the making of the record-breaking album and release of revolutionary short films that redefined the music video format and captivated audiences globally. ’Billie Jean’ remains the most streamed Michael Jackson song, and ‘Thriller’ is the only music video that has been inducted onto the elite National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.”

Source: YouTube
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George’s documentary will also include “never-before-seen footage and candid interviews,” chronicle “the point in Jackson’s career that launched the singer into mega-stardom and created a pop culture phenomenon that is woven through the culture and continues to influence the worlds of music, television, dance, fashion and more to this day.”

The documentary is a collaborative effort between Jackson’s estate and SONY. It will be the third documentary film after Bad 25 and Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall to focus on a specific album by the King of Pop. A release date has yet to be determined.

Despite the album’s success, Michael Jackson remained humble and focused on his craft

Thriller made Jackson, who was already a superstar, an international icon. But outside of music, Jackson remained distant from the public, rarely opting to give interviews to keep some level of normalcy. He was appreciative of the accolades. 

“Every time I get a platinum album, it’s never taken lightly on my behalf. I’m always honored and there’s great thanks and I’m very happy that the public enjoys what I do and I’ll continue to put my heart into my work,” he told Entertainment Tonight in Feb. 1983 when the album continued to sell at rapid numbers.