New York

The executors of Michael Jackson’s estate have been hit with a lawsuit over a film project the singer reportedly agreed to work on prior to his death. Sharad Chandra Patel, the father of late producer Raju Patel, filed documents in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming Jackson’s estate bosses have prevented him from making a documentary titled Messages to Michael.

Sharad says his son, who died from cancer in 2005, set up a film company called Neverland Entertainment with Michael, and alleges the pair signed a contract in 2002 to ensure all proceeds from their films would be evenly split between them.

Following Michael’s child molestation scandal in 2003, Raju is said to have put together plans to make a film about Michael’s fans who continued to support him. In documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Sharad claims Raju gave his father the green light to make the movie with Michael in his place. However, Sharad alleges that since Michael died in 2009, estate executors John Branca and John MCClain have repeatedly shut him down when he attempted to gain access to the pop star’s music and video footage to make Messages to Michael.

“Michael wanted to create a film tribute to the dedicated fans who stood by him during difficult times when many others turned their backs on Michael,” the lawsuit reads. “Michael trusted his good friend and filmmaker, Raju, to make the film a reality. But Branca and MCClain have disregarded the terms of the agreement, as well as Michael’s wishes for his fans, because they are simply motivated by the biggest payday.”

Sharad previous filed a creditor’s claim against Michael’s estate in 2010, and it was denied on 3 September. According to the new court documents, Sharad is now seeking access to “pre-existing materials, including music rights and home video footage, promised under the agreement now owned by Michael’s estate for use in the film.”