Since Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT was released October 28 in theaters worldwide, the late performer's fans everywhere have responded, already making it the highest-grossing concert film of all-time with a worldwide total of $101 million and counting, it was announced today by Jeff Blake, chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Worldwide Marketing & Distribution. With an estimated gross of $32.5 million domestically and $68.5 internationally, the film's worldwide take in just five days of release has surpassed the record previously established by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds (which had a lifetime worldwide gross of $71.3 million). Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT is directed by Kenny Ortega.
In response to the tremendous interest and desire to see the film around the world, the studio has also announced that it is extending its limited engagement. In the United States, the film will play through Thanksgiving weekend. Canada and most international territories will be announcing extensions of various lengths soon.
Overseas Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT is the 5th biggest international opening of 2009, close to X-Men Origin's $73.1m launch and well beyond Night at the Museum 2's $49.0 international opening. Top grossing territories include: Japan $10.4 m (3rd biggest opening of the year in Japan), U.K. $7.6 m, Germany $6.3 m, France $5.8 m, Australia $3.6 m, China $3.2 m, Italy $2.9 m, and Spain $2.6 m, among others.
Playing in 3,481 domestic locations, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT opened to #1 in North America with $21.3 million for the 3-day weekend, averaging an estimated $6,119 per screen.
The opening weekend audience was almost evenly split between 49 % males and 51% females with 62% of the audience over the age of 25.
The film received an "A" CinemaScore and is one of the best reviewed films of the year with an 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Commenting on the announcement, Blake said, "This film is a unique celebration of Michael Jackson and his extraordinary music. Kenny Ortega delivered a masterful tribute that shows the pure genius that Michael poured into his creative process and made him one of the best performers that ever graced a stage. In just 5 days, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT has become the highest grossing concert film of all time and we are elated by the response to this special film by fans, critics and moviegoers from all over the world. With this kind of global response, it's clear that the motion picture deserves an extended run and we are going to do everything we can to make the film available to everyone who wants to see Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT on the big screen."
By a large margin, the film's 5-day box office gross has already surpassed the cost the studio incurred to acquire the footage.
Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT offers Michael Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this past summer in London's O2 Arena. Covering the months from March through June, 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing numerous songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT is the last documentation of Michael Jackson in action, capturing the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius, and great artist at work as he and his collaborators move toward their goals of London, the O2, and history. Kenny Ortega, who was both Michael Jackson's creative partner and the director of the stage show, also directed the film, which was being produced by Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega and Paul Gongaware. Executive producers are John Branca and John McClain.
In South Africa, Michael Jackson's This Is It grossed R3,677,446 for the opening weekend and released at 81 cinemas around the country.
Beginning 28 October 28, the world will have a front-row seat for Sony Pictures Entertainment's and Sony Music Entertainment's release Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT.
The film will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this past summer in London's O2 Arena. Covering the months from March through June, 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing numerous songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT is the last documentation of Michael Jackson in action, capturing the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius, and great artist at work as he and his collaborators move toward their goals of London, the O2, and history.
Columbia Pictures presents in association with The Michael Jackson Company and AEG Live a film by Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT. Directed by Kenny Ortega. Produced by Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega, and Paul Gongaware. John Branca and John McClain are Executive Producers. The companion album will be released by Sony Music Entertainment's Columbia/Epic Label Group.
FOREWORD BY DAVID WILD
This Is It.
In just three words, Michael Jackson managed to say it all.
Right there in one willfully dramatic phrase, Jackson somehow promised everything -- a grand farewell, a new beginning and a thrilling return to form that would offer a sense of completion if not finality. It was a phrase that meant many things to Jackson: it would be not just a curtain call, but a call to arms, a call for more love in the world.
This Is It.
In his own distinctive and idiosyncratic way, Michael Jackson had always been an instinctively great communicator. He was, after all, such a singularly brilliant vocalist that he could magically lend universal meaning even to those curiously expressive mystery syllables that the rest of us could never even define. Now with just three simple words, Jackson managed to communicate so much yet again. That's the same thing Michael Jackson had done time and time again for decades as he gave soulful voice to some of the most beloved and familiar songs ever to be recorded -- both the ones that he wrote and the ones that he made his own forever just by the act of singing them.
Then in the wake of Michael Jackson's sudden and tragic death at the age of only 50 on June 25, 2009, the meaning of this strangely powerful phrase changed in one terrible instant that reverberated all around the world. This Is It suddenly seemed destined to become the sadly empty promise of a truly global happening that could never happen due to one horrible and historic twist of fate. For Michael Jackson's children, family and closest associates, they had lost a father, a brother, a son, and a friend. For the rest of us, we lost a cultural icon, a popular legend, and even a King.
For the millions of us everywhere who had been moved by the music Michael Jackson made during his fifty years -- and by the massive artistic legacy that he left behind -- the irony of the timing made his passing feel even more terrible. After all, we all had come so close -- and yet so far -- to seeing exactly where it was that Michael Jackson intended to take us next. Jackson was that rare performing artist capable of transporting himself -- and all of us -- with amazing grace. But with his sudden death, it appeared that what would turn out to be his final artistic statement would be one giant step, one last Moonwalk -- that none of us would ever get to witness.
This Is It was originally to have served as the title for a series of performances, ten initially, then finally an astounding 50 sold out dates thanks to unprecedented public demand. During a press conference at the O2 Arena on March 5th, Michael Jackson had officially announced these performances before thousands of fans and hundreds of members of the international media.
"This is it," Jackson explained to the world media that day. "I just want to say that these will be my final show performances in London. When I say this is it, it really means this is it." Jackson went on to add of the shows, "This is the final curtain call." These highly anticipated This Is It shows were to be held at the London's O2 Arena between July 2009 and March 2010. Then just a few weeks before Jackson was to take the stage for what he proclaimed would be his final triumph came the shocking news that Jackson died following a cardiac arrest, only hours after rehearsing for his upcoming London shows at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. Suddenly, it seemed Michael Jackson's triumphant return was not to be. And that -- it appeared -- was that.
In those days and weeks following Michael Jackson's death, I spent considerable time talking to some of the friends and fellow musical legends who knew and loved Michael Jackson best, first while contributing to a special Rolling Stone tribute issue to Jackson and then while helping Kenny Ortega, Randy Phillips and Ken Ehrlich on the Michael Jackson Memorial broadcast all around the world from STAPLES Center. What came through loud and clear in every conversation that I shared with such distinguished artists as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Lionel Richie was the undying love these individuals felt for their friend Michael Jackson, and the extraordinary respect they all had for him as a fellow artist and performer.
"Right from the start, Michael Jackson was amazing," the great Smokey Robinson told me. "And Michael was one of those rare artists who never stopped amazing us." Indeed, Smokey Robinson was among the very first to be amazed by Jackson back in his early days at Motown, especially when Robinson heard Michael sing his still stunning rendition of "Who's Lovin' You" with his brothers in The Jackson 5. "There was no way to explain how this kid sang my grown up love song like he had lived every single line. There was just no way a twelve-year-old could sing the way he sang, or move the way he moved. Michael Jackson was -- and is -- a phenomenon, and one of a kind. He amazed me then, and he still amazes me now."
And now in a way he could not have foretold, Michael Jackson posthumously gets the chance to share this hello and goodbye with the world, after all. Here, then, are a few more hours for this singular performer to amaze us one last time. And this time around, we get to see not just the magic, but also the magician at work.
Here too the ironies are profound. Michael Jackson had spent his life being filmed, photographed and endlessly documented, as he experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of our modern media world like perhaps no one else on earth. Some of this attention was thrust upon Jackson, and some he brought upon himself. Either way, this man experienced celebrity in its purest and often harshest form. And yet for once, the fact that the cameras were rolling in his final weeks as he prepared to bring This Is It to life onstage now allowed Michael Jackson - thanks to his friend and chosen creative collaborator Kenny Ortega -- to share this parting act of the creative genius of Michael Jackson with the fans of the world.
And so here it is, just as he had promised -- Michael Jackson's grand farewell, a whole new beginning and his final return to form. So how on earth do you bring any sort of fitting conclusion to one of the greatest and most surreal stories ever told?
Like this. And like the man said before he left us, This Is It.
THE STORY OF MICHAEL JACKSON
The story of Michael Jackson long ago became the stuff of legend. It's the remarkable tale of a kid from the steel town of Gary, Indiana, who sang his heart out with his brothers and became a superstar. Then he sang his heart out some more on his own, and in the process became the single biggest star on the face of the earth.
Yet This Is It is far from being some posthumous star trip, nor is it one more rehashing of the past events of one man's celebrated and controversial life. Thankfully, This Is It is something infinitely more interesting, valuable and artistic. What Kenny Ortega presents here is a powerful, revealing and ultimately moving portrait of the artist as a grown man. For all that we have seen of Michael Jackson over the years, and we have seen a lot, we have never seen this. This Is It offers a beautifully clear window into the creative process of Michael Jackson's last announced theatrical work. Over the course of a few compelling and illuminating hours, the film artfully takes the viewer inside the rehearsal spaces during what turned out to be Michael Jackson's last days on earth as he prepared to make what he knew could very well be his last artistic stand as a live performer. This Is It is not the way to see the show's final destination, but a fascinating opportunity for the first time to see exactly how he was getting there.
Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT Roundtable WITH KENNY ORTEGA, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT creative partner and director of the film, TRAVIS PAYNE, THIS IS IT choreographer, and RANDY PHILLIPS, THIS IS IT producer and producer of the film. Read more
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Dubbed the Billion Dollar Maestro by Daily Variety, KENNY ORTEGA (Director / Producer) has conquered feature films, television, stage, concerts and massive live events such as the Olympics with equal excellence. As Michael Jackson's director and creative partner on THIS IS IT as well as the previous Jackson concert tours DANGEROUS and HISTORY, Ortega has been a friend, trusted colleague and collaborator of Michael Jackson's for over 20 years.
The multiple Emmy Award winner famously directed and visualized Disney's billion-dollar High School Musical franchise of films both for television and as a feature film. Ortega directed the Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus "Best of Both Worlds Tour" featuring The Jonas Bros. He also directed to tremendous praise the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
TRAVIS PAYNE has been dancing since he was nine years old. Since then, he has made a mark on the entertainment industry with his remarkable routines, visionary styling, and impeccable sense of movement. He has choreographed, danced, and contributed to music videos and tours for megastars ranging from Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson to Madonna, Sting, Faith Hill and Britney Spears. Payne has placed his stamp on such popular films as Coyote Ugly, The Cable Guy and From Justin to Kelly, staged personalities like Jim Carrey, Elizabeth Hurley and Halle Berry to Marilyn Manson, and choreographed television events and commercial campaigns including Target's Product People and The Gap's Khaki Swing campaigns (for the latter, he won an Obie Award for his impressive presentation and choreography). In 2002, Payne directed Usher's Evolution 8701 World Tour and the video clips within, and in 2003, under the direction of Kenny Ortega, Travis choreographed Sirens of TI, for the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a show which is performed nightly and has set Vegas attendance records.
Payne is the youngest inductee into the Gallery of Greats, and the recipient of numerous nominations and awards. He has been honored with the MTV Award for Best Choreography four times: for his work on EnVogue's "My Lovin" and "Free Your Mind," EnVogue's duet with Salt-n-Pepa "Whatta Man," and Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson's groundbreaking "Scream" video. He has also received three American Choreography Awards, including honors for his work on "Scream" and Michael Jackson's "Ghost." In 1995, Payne was nominated for an Emmy for his work with Michael Jackson on the MTV Music Awards opening segment. He was again nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for his work on Disney's "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." He is also a two-time recipient of the prestigious Music Video Producers Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography: for his work with the Brian Setzer Orchestra for "Jump, Jive and Wail," and for his work on "Ally McBeal."
Moving to Los Angeles in 1990, Payne soon met longtime personal idols Kenny Ortega, Michael Peters, Debbie Allen, and Paula Abdul. Creating a dance video of himself led to his big break (at age 19!) as part of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814" World Tour. Payne was soon fielding offers to work with Prince, Debbie Allen, En Vogue, TLC, and Michael Jackson on his Dangerous Tour. .Working with Jackson extensively, Payne began to see the entire creative process close-up, and soon began to choreograph for such luminaries as Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Beyonce. Inclusive in his esteemed list of credits, he choreographed the debut music video for Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, and re-teamed with Scherzinger to provide the artistic direction for her critically acclaimed performances on both the 2007 MTV Video Awards and "So You Think You Can Dance." He also worked with American Idol Jordan Sparks on her first album.
Most recently, Payne was serving as the Associate Director as well as choreographer for the This Is It concerts until Michael Jackson's untimely passing. Payne was then involved in both creating and producing Jackson's memorial service. He serves as associate producer for Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT, and along with the director, Kenny Ortega, has been extensively and intimately involved in the making of the film. Payne was also handpicked by Janet Jackson to help mold her tribute performance to the late King of Pop at this year's MTV Video Music awards.
THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING