- Title: UK: "This Is It" - Michael Jackson's final rehearsal footage premieres in London
- Date: 1st November 2009
- Summary: WESTLIFE TALKING TO MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (English) WESTLIFE, SAYING: "I think everybody is asking the question what happened in the last days before he died , how healthy was he, this that and the other, a lot of questions but I think everybody is going to see the rehearsal ... we've seen the clips already, different clips and he looked pretty healthy to me."
- Embargoed: 16th November 2009 12:00
- Topics: Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVAAZRU1DOOPZKR8NTFXCMWCXVYY
- Story Text: 'This is It' was culled from 80 hours of videotape taken of the pop star's final days of rehearsals for a series of London concerts in July. Director Kenny Ortega has called the film "a story of a master of his craft."
Jackson, who grew up as one of Motown legends The Jackson 5 and still has the highest selling album of all-time with 1982's solo effort "Thriller," died suddenly on June 25 in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest at age 50.
Officials have since ruled that his heart stopped due to an overdose of the powerful anaesthetic propofol, which is utilized in surgery, as well as the sedative lorazepam, often used to treat anxiety and sold under brand names Ativan and Temesta.
But "This Is It" was never meant to delve into the details of his death, which could result in criminal charges being filed against his doctors.
The shows, 50 of them planned for London's 02 arena, had been dubbed Jackson's "comeback tour" by the media after the superstar had left the stage in the 2000s.
In the 1990s, Jackson was the subject of child molestation allegations and in 2003, he was arrested and charged with child sex abuse. After a 2005 trial, he was acquitted of all charges. Still, the negative publicity took him out of the spotlight.
He was said to be as much as $400 million - $500 million in debt when he died, but the value of his assets -- principally his music and his ownership of a song catalogue that held rights to old Beatles tunes -- outweighed his debts.
After his death concert promoter AEG Live, which bankrolled the London concerts, struck a $60 million deal with Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures movie studio to use the videotapes and make the film. Ortega, the shows' choreographer and a long-time Jackson friend, was hired to direct.
"This Is It" saw its world premiere in London and Los Angeles at 0100GMT.
Gracing the red carpet in London were celebrities such as British rapper Chipmunk, Harry Connick Jr, Westlife and Jackson impersonator Navvi.
"I was on my 'ABC 123' from a kid , I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, my Dad loves Michael Jackson, so I'm here for me my Dad, everyone that loves Michael Jackson" said Chipmunk. Peter Andre said "There are people complaining about it, but I think you should see it first, because I , when I heard it was a movie about Michael Jackson I wanted to see it."
Harry Cornick Jr said he wanted to see the film from a performer's point of view: "As a performer I am interested to see how another performer works , it's not something I get to see too much and when you're talking about somebody as important as Michael Jackson was it's a great opportunity for someone like me to watch and observe."
Simultaneous premieres were held in 15 cities around the world including Seoul, Johannesburg, Rio De Janeiro, and Berlin.
Global box office estimates vary from more than $600 million over its planned two-week run down to $100 million -- still a large amount for a movie that is part concert film, part documentary and all Michael Jackson.
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