The official premiere was set for Tuesday afternoon at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, where Jackson’s public memorial was held. There will also be 18 other premieres taking place simultaneously in Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Korea, Norway, Peru, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, Britain and New York City.
“This Is It” was cobbled together from about 100 hours of footage shot during the late King of Pop’s rehearsals for his 50-date comeback engagement in London’s 02 Arena. The movie was put together by longtime Jackson collaborator, Kenny Ortega, who was also directing the stage show. Sony Pictures bought the movie rights from concert promoter AEG for a reported $60 million, and advance ticket sales for the limited two-week run are on track to make the film the most successful concert movie ever.
Some diehard fans have come out against the movie, setting up a website at This-Is-Not-It.com that argues that the concert promoters facilitated Jackson’s drug use in a bid to get him to perform, even though it was clear he was unhealthy.
However, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of Jackson’s closest friends, has hailed the film as “the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen” after attending a secret preview screening last week. In a series of messages on Twitter the actress added: “I truly believe this film should be nominated in every category conceivable.”
Hailing the late entertainer as “a modern day prophet” she wrote that “I wept from pure joy at his God given gift. There will never, ever be the likes of him again”.
Some Jackson family members are not planning to see the film, saying it will be too painful. Mother Katherine Jackson told the television programme Access Hollywood, “I don’t think I can bear to look at it right now. But eventually in time I will watch it”.
His sister La Toya even said she doubted that Jackson would have wanted fans to see him in rehearsal. “Michael always wants to give his best,” she told the show. “This is a rehearsal. He wasn’t giving his all. He loves to give his all always. That’s just the way he is. He wants people to see him at the top of the ladder and not half-stepping because he doesn’t want to do a full-out rehearsal.”