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by Christopher Stone

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In more ways than one, THIS was IT for Michael Jackson.

In more ways than one, THIS was IT for Michael Jackson.
Like many a Halloween sensation before him, he came from beyond the grave and perhaps from somewhere over the rainbow singing, dancing and conquering the Halloween Box-Office with treats, not tricks. He proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that his legendary talent had not "eased on down the road" along with his personal reputation and longtime affinity for Diana Ross. In a two hour and one minute motion picture, he once again proved himself a musical genius; a dazzling thriller at the top of his game. And that's not BAD. He was not Freddy Krueger, Jigsaw, or even Norman Bates. No, the King of Halloween was the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

THIS IS IT culled from 80-some hours of rehearsal footage from the King of Pop's live concert series that never was was "all that and a moon-walk." The documentary sang and danced its way to the top of the Halloween box-office heap, uplifting Match-Flickers and vindicating Jackson's myriad fans who refused to believe that had he
His nose may be prosthetic, but MJ's heart is the real thing.

His nose may be prosthetic, but MJ's heart is the real thing.
lived - the pop music monarch was incapable of performing the concert series he'd planned for last summer.

Not surprisingly, the weekend's receipts had barely been counted when Sony Pictures gleefully announced that THIS IS IT, originally rolled out as a limited two-week theatrical release, had been extended indefinitely. How the extension will affect the studio's plan to release the DVD version in time for Christmas shopping has not yet been revealed. Somehow, I believe that Sony will find a way to both extend Jackson's stay in theatres and cash in on big holiday DVD sales.

Exactly how big was THIS IS IT? Michael Jackson's posthumous swan song-and- dance was the sole new nationwide release over the holiday weekend, still its box-office bump and grind propelled overall business nine percent higher than for the same box-office week last year. As a music documentary, the King of Pop's unfinished concert business is second only to the opening of the Hannah Montana concert movie.
The man in his mirror was legendary.

The man in his mirror was legendary.
IT pulled in $21.3 million domestically on 5500 screens, and then went on to sell a cumulative $32.5 million worth of tickets in its first five and a half days.

But, wait. There's more: much, much more. Add an additional $68.5 million gross from 98 other countries, and, after its first five days, THIS IS IT's worldwide tally is already $101 million, well beyond the final gross of the Hannah Montana concert opus.

So, what did the millions who flocked to THIS IS IT worldwide see?

Ann Powers, Pop Music Critic for the Los Angeles Times, put it this way, "Mostly it's a tribute to the power of Jackson's body and voice, which the film presents as surprisingly intact despite his age, 50."

She continues, "As a tragic teaser for the shows that might have been, 'This Is It' hurts. If Jackson had been able to perform as he frequently does during these scenes, he would have accomplished the comeback for which he was so hungry."

Watching THIS IS IT, it occurred to me that, with
IT is all that and a moon-walk!

IT is "all that" and a moon-walk!
almost every musical number staged as a hyper-produced spectacle, with costly sets, costumes and special effects, it may have been difficult, if not impossible, for MJ to make money from the live concert series. It also occurred to me that he may have cleared several hundred million dollars from a motion picture version of the live concert.

If Michael's was a body falling apart at the seams, suffering from prescription drug abuse, you'd never know it from anything you see in THIS IS IT. He looks fit, healthy and fabulous throughout the film. Nor did the troubled superstar seem in any way embittered by the charges leveled against his personal conduct. Clearly, Jackson loved the planet, its people, and most especially, the children. That he could have been guilty of harming a child seems impossible. Already one of his accusers has come forward and confessed the molestation charges were lies.

We want him (Michael Jackson) back. With THIS IS IT, we have him at least on the big screen.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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