Michael Jackson movie opening moved up two days

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Now this is really it.

Aiming to create a cinematic happening out of the theatrical release of its newly acquired Michael Jackson movie, Sony announced today that “Michael Jackson: This Is It” will arrive in theaters for a limited two-week run on Oct. 28 — two days earlier than its original release date.

And in an attempt to stoke fan anticipation for the film — which includes more than 80 hours of behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage shot in the lead-up to Jackson’s sold-out London comeback concerts — the studio is taking the unusual step of putting tickets on sale Sept. 27, more than a month before the film arrives at multiplexes.


“As we began assembling the footage for the motion picture we realized we captured something extraordinary, unique and very special,” said the film’s director, Kenny Ortega, in a statement. Ortega, the director-choreographer behind Disney’s lucrative “High School Musical” TV-movie franchise and the movie “Dirty Dancing,” as well as Jackson’s creative partner on his Dangerous and HIStory tours, worked closely with the performer up until his death as director of Jackson’s This Is It concerts.

“For the first time ever, fans will see Michael as they have never seen him before — this great artist at work. It is raw, emotional, moving and powerful footage that captures his interactions with the ‘This Is It’ collaborators that he had personally assembled for this once in a lifetime project,” said Ortega.

Disney made successful use of a similarly unorthodox release strategy for its 3-D concert movie “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds.” That film’s limited two-week engagement in February 2008 drove attendance in its opening weekend, resulting in “Best of Both Worlds” becoming a surprise No. 1 hit.

Moving “This Is It’s” release date to Oct. 28 from Oct. 30 also makes solid tactical sense for Sony.

Halloween, which falls this year on a Saturday, typically the biggest day of the week for movie attendance, is one of the toughest weekends of the year at the U.S. box office, although the date finds a natural correlation with one of the songs included in “This Is It”: Jackson’s ghoulishly themed smash hit “Thriller.”

Contrary to earlier reports, the filmmakers confirmed that “This Is It” will not contain sequences shot in 3-D.


— Chris Lee