'This is it' for Michael Jackson fans
Washington, October 28, 2009
Michael Jackson fans around the world flocked to screenings of 'This Is It' on Wednesday, many dressed as their idol or in costumes from Jackson music videos, as they bid a final farewell to the King of Pop.
Jackson, who grew up as one of Motown legends The Jackson 5 and still has the best-selling album of all-time with his 1982 'Thriller', died suddenly on June 25 in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest aged 50.
'This Is It' was culled from 80 hours of film of the singer's rehearsals for 50 London concerts planned for July which the media dubbed a 'comeback tour'. Jackson left the stage in 2005 after child molestation charges of which he was later acquitted.
After a star-studded opening in Los Angeles on Tuesday night and premieres in 16 other cities, the highly publicised film was to go on show in up to 99 countries by Wednesday, expanding to about 110 territories by the weekend.
'We have to celebrate his life, celebrate his legacy and that's what this documentary is all about,' Teddy Riley, who produced Jackson's 'Dangerous' album, told reporters on the red carpet at Sydney's premiere on Wednesday.
In central Taipei, a handful of Jackson impersonators, members of local fan club called MJ's Army of Love, danced to entertain the hundreds of fans queuing to see the documentary which is initially on a limited two-week release.
'It's such a regret, because his performances, songs and dances are totally perfect. It is a pity we cannot see his performance on stage but in a movie theatre instead,' said impersonator Li Yen-Ting, who was dressed up like his hero.
Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures bought the movie rights from concert promoter AEG Live for a reported $60 million and has reported 'phenomenal' demand since advance ticket sales started last month.
Columbia has said the movie will be extended beyond its two-week run if ticket demand is high and also plans to release the DVD for the movie in early 2010.
Early indications were that the movie would be a box office winner for Sony with one rival studio executive, who preferred to remain anonymous, saying it could make more than $660 million.
Some Jackson fans, however, were refusing to be caught up in the hype surrounding the movie, saying it was concealing the 'dire state' of Jackson's health in his final days and exploiting the singer.
'In the weeks leading up to Michael Jackson's death, while this footage was being shot, people around him knew that he looked like he might have died,' said website this-is-not-it.com
'Those who stood to make a profit chose to ignore it ...
What would have been a limited series of concerts in London has now turned into a global cinema and merchandising event, generating huge amounts of extra profit for AEG, Sony and many more.'
Officials have ruled that Jackson's heart stopped due to an overdose of sedatives and the powerful anaesthetic propofol, which is used in surgery. The film does not go into his death, which could result in criminal charges against his doctors. -Reuters