Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” short film premiered this day in more than 25 countries simultaneously, reaching an audience of 500 million people — the largest television premiere of a music video in history.
The short film aired on MTV, BET, VH1, and Fox, giving that network its highest viewership ratings at that time, as well as the BBC’s Top Of The Pops. It was the first of several short films released from Dangerous that received unprecedented, major television broadcast premieres.
The 11-minute film featured an opening interlude starring Macaulay Culkin, George Wendt, and Tess Harper. When told by his father (played by Wendt) to stop playing music, Culkin rolls out amplifiers that blast the music and send Wendt through the roof of their house. Wendt lands in Africa, where he has a front row seat to see Michael dancing with African Zulu hunters.
“Black or White” proceeds to show Michael dancing with traditional Thai dancers, Native Americans, an Odissi dancer from India, and a group of Russian men doing the Hopak. The short film was choreographed by Michael and Vincent Paterson, and directed by John Landis, who previously directed Michael’s landmark short film “Thriller.”
The $4 million short film featured advanced CGI techniques including morphing, where several actors and models, including Tyra Banks, were shown seamlessly morphing into each other at the end of the song. Prior to use of this technology in Michael’s short film, it had only been used in full-length theatrical motion pictures.
The single for “Black or White” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and hit #1 in 20 countries, becoming the top selling song of 1992 worldwide. Watch the short film now: