There are still 13 days until “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” opens in theaters, but the film is already making sales waves. The documentary has already broken international ticket-sales records, and online ticket retailers Fandango.com and Movietickets.com are reporting that more than 1,600 screenings have already been sold out via online presales.
The movie, which consists mostly of rehearsal footage captured during Jackson’s preparation for a planned 50-date residency at London’s O2 Arena, is expected to become the highest-grossing concert film of all time. The top position is currently held by last year’s “Hannah Montana/ Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” which, like “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” was only in theaters for a limited run; it grossed $70 million despite only playing in a few hundred theaters. According to Reuters,
Sony Pictures plans on putting the film on over 3,500 screens in North America alone, with a total of 8,500 prints circulated to 75 countries.
But while the presale numbers are impressive, some are suggesting that “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” could shatter box-office records. According to a report by Hollywood gossip czar Nikki Finke, concert promoter AEG (which also financed the film) is predicting that it will take in a total of $250 million in its first five days alone, which would make it the biggest opening of all time (besting current title-holder “The Dark Knight,” which earned $203 million in its first five days).
But no matter what the ledgers say at the end of the movie’s two-week run, director Kenny Ortega is confident that it will be a fitting piece of Jackson’s legacy, both for his fans and his memory.
“I know Michael, and I know why he wanted to do ‘This Is It,’ ” the director told Entertainment Weekly. “As long as the film is based on those reasons — letting his children see what he loved in his life, giving something back to the fans who were so loyal to him, sharing his concern about the health of our planet — why wouldn’t Michael be happy?”