With less than 2 months to go before Michael Jackson's This Is It
film hits theatres on 28th October, Sony Pictures have revealed the poster. And it's good. I like it.
I have mentioned before that MJ is one of the few artists whom you can identify by their silhouettes alone, and Sony Pictures have very wisely used one of MJ's iconic poses as the main image for the poster. Look closer and you'll see even more images of MJ in rehearsal, working hard on stage.
The colours are nice, it's elegant and nostalgic. Simply said, a job well done.
Before I go on to how big the This Is It project is going to be, let me touch on another piece of exciting news revealed today...Janet will open the MTV VMAs this Sunday with a tribute to her brother!
This is highly significant because Janet hasn't appeared or performed on the VMAs since 2001, when she also took the stage to honour another amazing artist who passed away too soon, Aaliyah.
Since the 2004 Superbowl fiasco (where MTV produced the show), MTV has unofficially "blacklisted" Janet by not putting her videos on high rotation and not inviting her to be part of the annual VMAs. Only with last year's Discipline album did MTV start to show some support for Janet by making her Artist Of The Week before the album's release and inviting her to perform on TRL. But they didn't put the videos on high rotation after that.
So with the death of the King Of Pop, and with every award show making an MJ tribute mandatory, MTV have called upon Miss Jackson (oh, she's single again by the way) to lead the way. And I'm glad they're letting her open the show again. Janet last opened the 2000 VMAs with a blazing performance of Doesn't Really Matter.
It might be a sly move on MTV's part, as this announcement instantly makes the VMAs a must-watch now. For many years now, the VMAs have been criticised for being boring and having a dearth of artists with no real talent perform, and I totally agree. I can't remember the last great VMAs I watched, but it was probably the 2001 show.
Last year's show was a complete fiasco - great in concept but poor in execution. It's high time the spotlight be put back on solid, memorable performances by real artists, not just the pretty young things who are the flavour of the month.
And getting the MTV Icon to honour the MTV legend is a great move. In fact, when the BET Awards changed its entire show to become an MJ tribute show, I already had the thought that MTV should jig the VMA to honour MJ. After all, MJ made MTV what it is today.
MJ had already received the MTV Video Vanguard Award in 1988, which is given to artists who have had a profound effect on the MTV culture. In 2001, the award was re-named the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, in recognition of his contribution and significance to the art of music videos.
And of course, Janet herself is no slouch either. She is the winner of 9 VMA awards, or moonmen, as they like to call it, including the Video Vanguard Award in 1990. And she was the recepient of the inaugural mtvICON Award in 2001. Not even MJ received the ICON honour. Maybe they'll give it to him this Sunday.
But yes, the point is that MTV is putting the 2 true MTV icons and legends in the spotlight and giving them the recognition they deserve. Long overdue I must say.
Early reports have claimed that Janet will be joined onstage by 20 dancers (including Tina Landon OMG!) and they have been putting in 15-hour rehearsals. And at the end of it, "there won't be a dry eye in the house".
I'm excited to see how it will turn out. But I hope people will understand that Janet is not Michael, and Janet and Michael are two very different people with different styles of dancing and singing. But one thing they have in common is that they're both perfectionists, and they will put in 100% for a show.
I don't think Janet will attempt to sing MJ's songs (except maybe Scream?) or that she will recreate all of MJ's signature moves (I just don't see Janet doing the moonwalk). I don't know how it will turn out but I'm sure it will be good. I just don't want people to compare Janet negatively to Michael. That's not the point. The point is that she's honouring a brother she loved very much.
Yeah, so back to the This Is It film. With MJ's 51st birthday and burial last week, and the VMA performance this Sunday, there is plenty of buzz already. Even though the sales have slowed down somewhat (but perfectly understandably so), I still expect the This Is It film to do well. It's the perfect marketing opportunity with all the media attention going on.
In fact, on 29 August (MJ's 51st birthday), when Channel 5 aired the HIStory Tour Munich concert, they already ran spots (at least 4 times within the 2-and-a-half hours telecast) to promote the This Is It film. The trailer also mentioned that the soundtrack will also be out on the same day. The release date given was 29 October.
I'm thinking about how big the soundtrack CD album and film are going to be. I'm thinking huge. I'm thinking the CD album can possibly score the biggest debut ever, of which the record is currently held by NSYNC's 2000 No Strings Attached album, which sold 2.4 million copies in the US in one week.
Already, MJ has the biggest selling album in the US this year. His 2003 compilation Number Ones has sold about 1,687,000 this year so far, overtaking Taylor's Swift's Fearless. I don't have the exact figures, but a report published on 16 July stated that in the 3 weeks since MJ's death on 25th June, he had sold 2.3 million albums in the US, and a total of 9 million albums worldwide. And that was 16 July, more than a month ago. By now the figure must have exceeded 12 million already.
So yes, I'm thinking the soundtrack to This Is It will break NSYNC's record and sell more than 2.4 million copies in its first week. If anyone can still do it in this downloading and piracy era, it is MJ.
I estimate sales for the This Is It soundtrack to hit 20 million worldwide by Christmas. Remember, this is a new MJ release, not some compilation that millions of fans already have for many years. This album will sell, I tell you.
As for the film, apparently Sony Pictures paid AEG Live (who owns the footage) and MJ's estate US$60 million for the rights. It might sound like a big sum, but the gross will be many times that. I'm thinking somewhere in the US$600 million region. Possibly more.
Sony Pictures have said that the theatrical release will be limited to a 2-week run only. This is to ensure that every session will be sold out. It's a smart strategy, but I believe once the tickets get sold out within a day, they will "cave in to unprecedented demand" and extend it by another week or two. AEG Live had already done it with the London O2 concerts, and it worked, so why not do it again?
There are no other major movies coming out on or around 28th October, with the exception of Saw VI on 23rd, but I doubt that will take a big slice (pun intended) out of This Is It's earnings. So it has a clear field ahead.
Given how this film captures MJ's final moments, doing what he was doing best - on stage, this film will definitely sell out. The day and date global release will stir interest up to deafening levels and it will be #1 in ALL the territories it opens at. This is for sure, 100%. As such, US$600 million will be easily attainable, but the limiting factor will be the length of its run.
So once again, in death, MJ will rule the world. He has always wanted to act in movies. He might not have planned it that way, but he is about the rule the box office just like how he conquered the music charts.
Michael, R.I.P. I look forward to Janet's tribute on Sunday and the film on 28th October.