Predictions were that "Michael Jackson's This Is It" could be the highest-grossing music film of all time, and the documentary chronicling the final concert rehearsals of the King of Pop got off to a good start. A series of late-night screenings pulled in $2.2 million in the U.S. on Tuesday, setting the film up for a possible #1 ranking at the box office this Halloween weekend, according to The Associated Press.
The fright-filled weekend could set up a showdown between the zombie-loving late pop star and the surprise success of low-budget horror flick [movie id="369646"]"Paranormal Activity,"[/movie] which pulled in just $1.7 million on Tuesday after topping the box office last weekend. While "Activity" will expand to its widest release yet over the weekend when it unfolds on 2,400 screens, "This Is It" will be playing on more than 3,500 screens.
Pre-sales for "This Is It" Wednesday matinee screenings already surpass the total for the first night, according to Sony, the film's distributor.
The current record for the biggest concert movie is "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds," which last year banked a $31.1 million opening weekend and topped $65.3 million during its limited run. "This Is It" — culled from more than 100 hours of high-definition footage shot of Jackson rehearsing for his planned 50-date comeback residency at the O2 Arena in London this year — is slated to have a two-week engagement.
While "This Is It" had a healthy premiere at late-night showings Tuesday — in advance of its rollout on Wednesday in 99 countries — it did not come close to the best premiere-night bow ever. That achievement belongs to "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which raked in $13.2 million on a Thursday night before its official Friday release in summer 2006. Nor did it set a Tuesday night record — "Independence Day" holds that honor with $11.1 million in summer 1996.
Last year's "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" fell well behind Cyrus' box-office record at $19.2 million, followed by "Madonna: Truth or Dare" ($15 million) and last year's "U2 3D" ($10.2 million). Sony Pictures paid $60 million for the rights to the Jackson film, and experts predicted that the investment was likely worth it, given the intense interest in the film and anything Jackson-related in light of the singer's shocking death at age 50 on June 25.
Results for the film's first full day are slated to be released on Thursday (October 29).
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