jackso rehearsal 1

Sony_pictures_logoI don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that Sony Pictures and Sony Music were smart to purchase that rehearsal footage of Michael Jackson preparing for his concerts before his untimely death — even if the pricetag started at $50M. Not only does the trailer clearly show this is an intriguing motion picture, but those who’ve seen the actual movie tell me it’s riveting. (And they don’t even like Michael Jackson or his music…) So it should come as no surprise that Sony is boasting this morning that sales around the world for the pic, which supposedly has a 2-week release (and which we all know will be extended) are humongous. “I’ve never seen anything like it in the 25 years I have been film buying,” says a UK exhibitor quoted by Sony. Here’s the press release:

jackso rehearsal 2CULVER CITY, Calif., September 28, 2009 – Sony Pictures Entertainment, in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment, today announced that the first 24-hours of pre-sales activity for Michael Jackson’s This Is It has resulted in record-breaking sales throughout the world as fans secure the first tickets to the two-week, limited engagement of the highly-anticipated motion picture.

With reports still coming in from nations around the world, it is believed no movie in history has generated so many ticket sales so far in advance of its release.

In North America, online ticket sellers Fandango and MovieTickets.com report that there is extraordinary demand for the film with hundreds of showtimes already sold out after one day of pre-sales. Some 80% of all online ticketing service transactions were for the film, which will debut in some markets with special advance showings the evening of Tuesday, October 27 and will open worldwide on Wednesday, October 28. The film is directed by long-time Jackson collaborator Kenny Ortega.

Domestically, an unprecedented number of shows for the two-week engagement have sold out in the first 24 hours of ticket availability in locations from coast-to-coast, including such cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Nashville and New York, among others. Internationally, exhibitors from London and Sydney to Bangkok and Tokyo have experienced the same epic demand.

In London, Vue Entertainment’s Film Buying Director Stuart Boreman said Michael Jackson’s This Is It sold more than 30,000 tickets in its first 24-hours, setting the biggest ever one-day sales record in the UK, eclipsing advance buying for films including Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. “I’ve never seen anything like it in the 25 years I have been film buying,” Boreman said. “It’s a true phenomenon and sales show no sign of slowing down.”

In the United States, more than 500,000 fans performed searches for showtimes on the official www.thisisit-movie.com website. Online buzz for Michael Jackson’s This Is It was 60 percent higher Sunday than for any other upcoming film.

Commenting on the extraordinary results, Rory Bruer, President of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution for Sony Picture Releasing said, “Michael Jackson’s fans all over the globe have enormous interest in this film and we can assure they will not be disappointed. This film delivers on everything they hope and expect to see. I think the initial sales activity we are seeing in the United States and United Kingdom to countries such as Australia and Thailand underscores the unique nature of this film, which is a special celebration of Michael and his music.”

In Japan, more than $1 million in ticket sales were recorded within the first 24 hours of their release, setting an advanced-sales record unmatched by any movie in history.

Staggering advance sales were reported in Australia, where tickets for Michael Jackson’s This Is It purchased through Village Cinemas exceeded the lifetime pre-sales of such blockbusters as Transformers, and X-Men Origins.

In Bangkok, Thailand, fans lined up at box office ticket counters throughout the city, and by the end of the first day, all tickets for the first showings across Bangkok were sold-out.

In Los Angeles, at Regal Cinema’s LA LIVE Stadium 14, fans began lining up on Thursday night for tickets to some of the city’s first public showings, and within hours of Sunday morning’s starting bell for advance pre-sales, the exhibitor reported selling out of all 3,000 of their seats for shows on Tuesday night October 27th.

Sell-outs at theaters in France are also being reported; thousands of fans lined up at The Grand Rex in Paris and quickly bought out the film’s first screening there. Record-setting sales also were recorded in Germany; hundreds of fans lined up outside one theater in Munich at midnight to await the opening of the box office. As one German exhibitor noted, “Something like this never happened before in Germany.”

Record sales and sell-outs are also being reported in Holland, Sweden, Belgium and New Zealand, among other countries.

Moviegoers worldwide can get information for the two-week limited engagement by visiting www.thisisit-movie.com. For fans wishing to discover the closest theater playing the film near their home in North America, please call (877) 488-4258.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this summer in London’s O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from March through June, 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson’s This Is It captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius, and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his final show. Kenny Ortega, who was both Michael Jackson’s creative partner and the director of the stage show, is also directing the film, which is being produced by Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega and Paul Gongaware. Executive producers are John Branca and John McClain. The film will be distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Releasing. For more information about the film please visit www.thisisit-movie.com.

Sony Music Entertainment’s Columbia/Epic Label Group will release a two-disc album “This Is It” featuring music inspired by the motion picture. The album will be available internationally on October 26th and in North America on October 27th.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.