When Michael Jackson passed away a little over three weeks ago, a brief snippet of his upcoming concert surfaced via rehearsal footage shot in preparation of 50 dates in London’s O2 theater. Jackson’s “Farewell” concert series was supposedly almost fully choreographed and included several videos to be shown throughout the set, some possibly in 3D.
Perhaps most enticing are the rights to “hours” of footage shot the day before Jackson’s death at rehearsals in LA’s Staples Center.
Now, The Wrap reports that Sony (complete with watch-list head-honcho Amy Pascal) is aggressively bidding to obtain the footage and release it in some manner. The deal is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $50 million after a short but intense bidding war amongst other studios like Universal and 20th Century Fox:
The rehearsal was recorded in multi-camera HD and 3D, and is of a quality that could be released as a movie, or DVD. AEG later confirmed the report, and said that it had “at least 100 hours” of footage of Jackson during rehearsals, and behind the scenes.
Negotiations had hit a fever pitch over the weekend. AEG is also selling TV rights. By late Sunday evening, the deal was not yet done, but a person involved said that Sony was “very close.”
An AEG spokesman denied knowledge of negotiations on Saturday but noted that most of any profits from such a deal would go to the Jackson estate.
I know that a concert film would be super-popular if Sony could turn the movie around fast enough. It seems like that’s what they plan to do with rumors swirling that the show’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega (also the director of the High School Musical trilogy) would be brought on to “direct” the footage and assemble it into a full work.
However, part of me thinks that this should be shown on TV or pay cable and not the theater. Sure, 3D segments sound like a cinema experience, but when comparing theater dollars to TV dollars, I’d be more likely to spend my money on a DVD after seeing at least a truncated version on television for free.
The world-wide appeal of Jackson is still out there, so I don’t think recouping the investment is going to be a problem for Sony.