Sony Pictures in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment has been given legal approval to handle the worldwide release of the Michael Jackson concert film This Is It in memory of the late entertainer who died in June.
The studio plans an october 30 release after a judge approved its acquistion at auction of film rights from AEG Live for a pricetag believed to be worth at least $50m. This Is It will be compiled from hundreds of hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage from Jackson’s preparations for his 50 sold-out shows at London’s O2 Arena that were scheduled to commence in July.
Sony Music Entertainment is understood to have been an influential component in the Sony bid, given that it controls distrbution rights to Jackson’s music.
The release appears almost guaranteed to become a global smash given the enduring popularty and mystique surrounding Jackson. In a press conference earlier this year Jackson said of the planned shows, “This is it. I mean this is really it. This is the final… the final curtain call.”
Studio sources said the project has the full support of Jackson’s Estate and will incorporate 3-D sequences and interviews with some of Jackson’s closest friends and creative collaborators.
The rights to the exclusive footage were acquired from AEG Live and the Estate. Sony Pictures and Sony Music will co-produce with AEG Live and the Estate. Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware of AEG Live are producing.
The majority of footage was shot in June 2009 at the Staples Center and The Forum in Los Angeles. Proceeds the Estate earns from the release will go to the Michael Jackson Family Trust, the entity Jackson specified in his will would receive all his assets.
John Branca, the attorney who jointly administers the Jackson Estate with Jackson Family friend and music executive John McClain, said the aim was to “work with partners who treat Michael’s legacy with dignity and respect.”
“This historic recording of the last time he sang and danced on stage shows the legendary artist in an incredibly powerful way, with crystal clear images and sound,” Sony chairman and CEO Michael Lynton said. “I know this film will serve as further proof that Michael Jackson is one of the greatest entertainers who ever graced a stage.”
Sony’s president of worldwide affairs Peter Schlessel negotiated for the footage on behalf of Sony with Branca.
Jackson collapsed at his rented Los Angeles home on June 25 and died shortly after at UCLA Medical Center. He was 50.