Just how big will the Michael Jackson movie be?

Three months after Michael Jackson’s death, I’m still surprised by the passion of his fans. On Thursday, fans in Los Angeles began lining up for tickets to his concert documentary, This Is It — the film doesn’t open until Oct. 27, but tickets go on sale Sunday morning.

I once invested a whole day in line for Rocky IV tickets, so I’m not about to tell anyone that these Michael Jackson fans are wasting their time. But I sort of feel like Tom Hanks in Big, when he tentatively raised his hand in the business meeting to say, “I don’t get it.” I don’t get it. I mean, I grew up in the 1980s, but I never felt like Michael Jackson’s music grew up with me. His songs were my musical equivalent of Star Wars toys, fossilized artifacts of a frivolous childhood. At some point, his sound ceased to evolve, and eventually, I moved onto other toys, other music. Don’t get me wrong, the opening bars of “Billie Jean” are still thrilling, but little more than a special edition Boba Fett figurine.

I know I’m in the minority on this.

So I have no idea what to expect with This Is It. Fans are lining up to watch a cobbled documentary about an artist whose body is practically still warm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film grossed $10 million or $200 million during its limited two-week run. No clue. Where is This Is It on your radar? What are your expectations or fears with this movie? How long would you wait in line for a ticket to opening night?

Comments (248 total) Add your comment
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  • nc from nyc

    This isn’t just another movie. In case you haven’t been able to put 2 and 2 together for the past 3 months, this movie has always been planned, it didn’t just come out of nowhere because MJ “died”.
    This movie is going to set up something huge, monumental. It’s not running for just 2 weeks for nothing.
    I cannot wait to see this movie. This will be the first movie I wait in line for, even though I’m a movie fanatic. But I gotta do what I can to get a ticket b/c of the limited run.
    Everyone thinks they know what the end of the movie will be. But they don’t. They have no idea.

    • mscisluv

      What on earth are you talking about? They never planned on releasing this concert footage as a movie, because there was supposed to be an actual concert. And no one has any idea what the end of the movie will be? Huh?? I’ll take a guess: HE DIED.

      • nc from nyc

        like i said, you THINK you know what the end of the movie will be but you don’t. just wait a few weeks and you’ll see what i’m talking about.

      • Steve

        I think most the behind the scenes stuff would have come out in cinemas or to dvd, they recorded it in hd, so had to be a plan for the footage, I guess this would have come out after the concerts.

      • J-mo

        Look back at Michael’s interviews from the last 5 years. Yes this movie has been planned and all the events that have happened this year was planned. All part of the media and his plot to get back at the media. This is it and it is This!

      • Jim Howard

        hey mscisluv they were planing to release this is it in imax about halfway through his concerts

      • Julia

        Of course they planned on releasing the footage! Why else would they be filming it in the first place? Just for fun????

      • maddy

        Duh, of course they planned on releasing the footage, why else would they have filmed it. yes, it was probably originally intended to be an “extra” on the DVD of the live concert, but nonetheless, clearly it was always intended to be for public consumption.

    • Linda O’Connor

      you are a very sick person to talk that way about MJ.I hope god will forgive u so you wont go to hell.leave MJ ALONE

      • laurell

        I think that Michcal Jackson was a great performer and a music icon. There will never be another performer out there like him. May god rest his soul.

    • Debbie Pybus

      You don’t know that. Were you there with him? Have you read anything about his life? I have read a tremendous about about M J and I don’t believe he molested anyone. He was famous and had a trembeneous amount of money and people knew that.

    • Missin_MJ

      I think I got you on that one. I really do.

    • John McK

      Who is to say he is dead, MJ IS ALIVE
      I think we will find this in the end, go to the memorial videos on youtube, will you be there, the ending where he says in agony and in my pains notice the s
      Watch will you be there by him and listen to him agony and pain.
      He ether re-recorded it that day or did it live.

    • Illustionist

      NC from NYC – I know EXACTLY what you’re talking ;)

      This month is going to be…interesting.

  • Stephanie T.

    I have to agree. Commercially Michael helped defined the eighties like Kiss did in the 70’s but musically He was NOT the eighties in a whole. There were many phases that defined that era. Disco slowly fazed into frestyle, there was pop, punk, ska, new wave, hair metal, etc. Kids who grew up in the eighties (like me) moved along with those changes. We grew out of one genre and moved on to another. Still I must say that eighties indie is still one of my favorites from that era. Blame John Hughes. :-P

  • meg

    Michael was more than his music, he was part of the fabric of our upbringing, of American culture and pop culture, good or bad, for decades. That kind of influence doesn’t fade away like top-10 hits. It’s SO not about the music in this case. I’m amazed a pop culture critic doesn’t get that.

    • tika

      Exactly! He was more than the music. He was the part of the fabric of my life too. He wasn’t just about the 80’s. He was every decade since the 70’s. His dances, his voice, his moves, his eccentricities, his life. I’m 56 years old and I’m crazy about him and watch every youtube video of him.

  • tophertilson

    You answered your own question with the STAR WARS analogy. Did you happen to catch the lines for the prequels? People waited on line weeks for those films in hopes they might recapture their childhood.

  • Eternal Knight

    This “movie” will be a MUST-NOT-SEE for me. Basura.

  • Josie

    Well I’m Michael Jackson’d out. I can’t take any more. Granted he was a talented musician, but this is too much. It’s really made me numb to his death at this point.

  • razor

    “I once invested a whole day in line for Rocky IV tickets.”

    WTF? Who are these people who are working for EW these days? What can I expect next, a critique from Spencer Pratt?

  • katz

    He was and still is one of the most talented singers,dancer,composers…that we have ever seen.There won’t be another like him for a long long time…if ever.i never believed any of the b.s. that was said.May he rest in peace

  • Erica

    One of my favorite MJ songs is “You are not alone,” and that song was not from the 80s. What you are missing is that it’s not just about the music. This man donoted over $300 million to charities around the world! More money than anyone else in history. He would go to hospitals and make sure patients had money for liver transplants and life saving meds. It’s not just the music, it’s how he tried to “heal the world.” Think about it, when Jesus was on earth the folks back then thought, “he’s no one special,” but now He is who we Christians seek to enter the gates of heaven. I can see the heart of MJ. I can honestly say that his death hit me harder than the death of people I’ve actually met. I can’t explain it. He motivated me. He is the reason I won “Citizen of the Year” in my hometown when I was in school. It’s not just about the music.

    • Steve

      Good for you Erica… It’s always nice to read that celebrities have a positive effect on someone. I too never believed all the rumors about MJ even though after reading and hearing all the sides. It just doesn’t add up… Unfortuately, he was made to be a scapegoat and weird, but what he wasn’t given enough credit for was his humanitarism. He spent a lot of money and energy in his charities and doing his best to heal the world.

    • Good

      Wow good for you girl! Congrats on your Citizen of the Year Award!

    • jackie davis

      yea Eerica! you are right its much more than music, mj makes you want to be a better person, I get you mj I understand. rest in peace

    • Mel

      I totally agree with you. It not just about his music, though his music means the world to me. His death hit me extremely hard too and I still can’t get over it. Michael Jackson wasn’t only a great performer, he was a human being with the most beautiful soul. He always thought about helping other before himself.
      Like Jackie Davis said, Michael Jackson made me a better person. This grandiose man did all he could do to make the world a better place. Like you said, he’s my inspiration and he’s the world’s inspiration. I just can’t stop loving him.

    • Alicia

      Erica, very well said, it is so not just about the music, he did so much more than that, more than anyone. Will they let anyone write junk on EW.com? He obviously has not much heart.

    • Jerry

      Hi Erica – whilst I can appreciate the point you’re trying to make it is factually incorrect. Numerous individuals have donated more money than Michael Jackson; for example, Bill & Melissa Gates, Warren Buffet, Ted Turner etc.. That Michael Jackson gave generously is not being disputed but he did *not* give “more than anyone else in history”. Secondly, you state that at the time folks didn’t think Jesus was “special” – quite incorrect: from rulers (e.g. Herod, Pilate) to religious and community leaders to everyday folk right across the region a lot of people did think he was someone special. What many were not aware of was just quite how special! Anyway, I point these out because it’s important to appreciate people for what they actually did rather than build up a flawed image of their lives. His death may have hit you hard but its impact may be slightly lessened if it’s actually him you mourn rather than what you incorrectly *think* he was / did. In other words, credit were credit is due and tears were they are deserved.

      • Deborah Ffrench

        …. er Jerry, that’s because Ted Turner, Melissa gates and Warren Buffet had more money – they are billionaires. Michael Jackson, if his earning power had not been diminished by the loss of his Pepsi endforsement, gigs and potential endorsements after the turbulence of 1993, would undoubtedly gone on to contribute many more millions to many more worthy causes. And frankly, to compare amounts of charitable largesse is seriously cheap. Michael Jackson never said he was the biggest donator, and why should that detract from what he did accomplish here? Can we all give this incredible man and artist a break for once?


  • Sean

    Jeff, you have hit the nail on the head with my feelings about Jackson’s music , as well. His sound never evolved. His music never challenged me as a listener to broaden my mind.It was mostly pop music with silly topics. Thriller, Beat It, Dirty Diana, Off The Wall etc. Only his ballads (like Man In The Mirror, Gone Too Soon etc. had true emotional conviction. While I am saddened by his passing, it is only in terms of having wished he had a better “final chapter” to his story.

    • nc from nyc

      apparently you’ve never listened to “scream”, “they don’t care about us”, “stranger in moscow”, “is it scary”,”heaven can wait”. MJ was all about emotional conviction. “pop music with silly topics”. WTF? you must be deaf. need more examples? “Earth Song”, “Cry”, “Who is It”.

      • MR

        The truth is Michael did not release a lot of the songs you mentioned in the US. Having grown up in Europe (where people seem to be less interested in his personal life and more in his music), I can see why his last American tour was BAD, in the 80’s.

      • Susan

        NC from NYC: THANK YOU!! My God, you people are clueless. You don’t even KNOW Michael Jackson’s music. Listen to some of his more recent music and if you can’t understand what he is saying, Google the lyrics. You will be shocked and amazed. He was brilliant and he had more to say than any other musician who ever lived. Very deep and emotional and meaningful. “Apparently you’ve never listened to “scream”, “they don’t care about us”, “stranger in moscow”, “is it scary”,”heaven can wait”. MJ was all about emotional conviction. “pop music with silly topics”. WTF? you must be deaf. need more examples? “Earth Song”, “Cry”, “Who is It”.

      • Jerry

        The Dangerous World Tour was the second world concert tour by Michael Jackson from 1992 to 1993.
        ALL PROFITS MADE FROM THE TOUR were donated to various charities including the Heal the World Foundation. NO ARTIST has NEVER done that.. What a humanitarian he was.
        The HIStory World Tour was the third and final world concert tour by Michael from 1996 to 1997.

    • marinaz

      Actually, you’re completely wrong– his music did indeed evolve continually, and so did the complexity of the compositions and the sound engineering, which is nothing less than astonishing on ‘Invincible’.

    • Mel

      You are ignorant. You don’t even know his music. Like nc from nyc said, there’s bunches of songs with emotional convictions. This man was a genius, a king. His music never stopped evolving, he tried every music styles, and all of his songs were successful. He completely revolutionized the world of music, but also the world of dance. All the pop, rap, hip-hop and r&b singers today wouldn’t even exist without him. He’s the inspiration of a whole generation. Michael Jackson truly was a king.

    • Alicia

      OMG, I can think of almost 20 songs that MJ wrote that have ‘true emotional conviction”. Jeez, buddy, do your research before you speak, it makes you sound really dumb, even though you probably aren’t.

    • maxine gillis

      This is to Sean, who wishes for a better final chapter. I think we as humans, wish everyone that precedes us in death, a better final chapter. However, it’s not up to us how the final chapter of ourlives are played out or displayed.

    • Julia

      Before you put his music down, you should actually listen to it. Those are not the only topics he touched on. Clearly, you haven’t listened to his music.

      • Kate

        All of MJ’s music evolved as he did. I even loved his least mentioned CD – Invincible. MJ’s music isn’t boring, repetitive and each song had a message, whether silly or not (mostly not). Just look at (if you can manage) the videos out now or even most songs – boring, yawn, yawn. MJ was a creative genius.

  • Meghan Collins

    I’ll wait as long as it takes to get the ticket! For me MJ’s music not only encompasses passion, social ethics, global responsibilities and love — it also educates the listener about the layers of music and arrangements. The power of his videos to marry cinema magic with gut moving music is signature and unparalleled. I found his later creations to be just as magnificent as the thriller days or more… For me there was no stagnation. He never stopped growing as an artist. For me he was never trite – he had that awesome power to with sometimes simple words create a message that was as big as a galaxy. I think those who did not hear the layers of message in his music just need to listen more. To me MJ’s later genius will come to be regarded in the future as a fact as the years wax and the debris from the mud the media tossed at his good name falls away like dust in the wind. The quality of the man as an artist and as a champion for a better world will rise and fly free of the muck on pegasus vibrant wings.

  • Sven

    This is only the millionth time that someone has said “I don’t get it” when talking about Michael Jackson and his unrelenting popularity. The combination of things that created the stardom of Michael Jackson simply transcended the person at some point. Talent, look, work ethic, eccentricity, timing and luck all came together in such a perfect storm that it will permeate through generations to come. As far as a sound not evolving, it became more experimental over time and stopped being all out geared towards the masses. This is evident in his resistance to the guaranteed pop hits that his Invincible producer, Jerkins, wanted him to put on that album. It is most certainly a tragedy that the end came in the way that it and it will forever leave people wondering what more could he have produced. But, there is never a good time or good way to die and we are always left wanting more from someone we have a vested interest in preserving. Let’s keep in mind that he achieved a level of success that essentially no one on the planet has achieved in the modern era. Like him or hate him, if you don’t get that, then you’re simply not in touch with popular culture. The clean, crisp sound, dance and ever morphing (for better or for worse) physical appearance that was the Michael Jackson reality..or surreality simply left a lasting impression on humanity and will linger on. The larger than life dancing, fashion , ballads, physical changes, ambiguous sexual orientation all were elements that pushed a remarkable vocal and dancing talent into the stratosphere of human fascination. That is something I think most people get. No Usher, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlak, etc. can do what we witnessed in the 80s. Sure, the landscape of music has changed significantly. But, the uniqueness of what was Michael Jackson in all of its good and bad is unbelievably rare. Of course, it could and likely will happen again with some young kid somewhere on the planet. And when it does, I hope that a whole new generation the world over will feel the same electricity that Michael Jackson and all those that contributed to it created. I also hope that the next human embodiment of such a massive phenomenon will find a better way to manage their reality and live a happier, healthier, longer life.

    • PJ

      Very well said, Sven, and I wholeheartedly agree. You totally “get” it. :-)

    • Aimee

      I completely agree. Someone writing an article about Michael Jackson shouldn’t start with the words “I don’t get it”. If the movie isn’t for you, fine. It’s for the people who understand what his music brought into people’s lives. While you were playing with Star Wars figures, other kids were dressing up with one glove or singing and practicing the dances to Beat It or Thriller.

    • Swe

      here, here! *applause* well said

    • Beth

      EXCELLENT POST!! You definitely “get it”.

    • fancypants

      i agree. but there was nothing ambiguous about MJ’s sexuality. he loved woman, quite obviously–in his personal life, and also as mirrored in his music. he never displayed any kind of romantic/sexual affinity for men, so he clearly was not gay. he’s said this himself many times.

      • Kate

        Totally agree with you on this one point of Sven’s. MJ was definitely a sexy man who love women (just couldn’t trust them). MJ was a sexy man through and through.

      • sophie from England

        i agree totally, he was not gay at all,he was a very sexual man but only for the ladies,my god he was such a sexy dancer!!!

    • jackie davis


    • Kate

      Excellent Sven. Excellent.

    • Merrick

      EXCELLENT, SVEN!!! You get it! I get it! All of us MJ fans get it and those of you who don’t…. well, you have missed out on all the joy that Michael Jackson gave us. He was a sweet soul.

      I love you, Mike. RIP, I will miss you. You were the sound track of my life……… for 40 years. I loved all your looks, all your moves and all your eccentricity. What a THRILLER!

  • dustin

    If people want to waste their time waiting in line who cares but is it really worth a story. EW.com must hire tvguide.com rejects

  • Melinda65

    Jeff, you are not alone, to quote MJ. Yeah, his 80s music, and some of his later works, put a smile on my face or a tear in my eye, but around the time that he went overboard on the plastic surgery I lost much of my interest in him. I certainly don’t want to go watch a movie about him.

    • ella

      Hmm, nice to know that you’re judging someone’s music — and worth — based on what they look like.

    • Kate

      You are not a true fan if you base your taste in music and true genius on looks. If you’re not a fan – stop posting.

  • Dave Allemby

    I will have to wait until the dyd comes out and catch sippets on the web in the meantime !!!

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