This Is It (Michael Jackson concerts): Wikis

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This Is It
ThisIsItMJ.jpg
Promotional banner for Jackson's concert series
Tour by Michael Jackson
Location The O2 arena
London, United Kingdom
Start date Cancelled
End date Cancelled
Shows 50 scheduled
(all cancelled)
Michael Jackson tour chronology
HIStory World Tour
(1996-97)
This Is It
(2009-10)
(cancelled)

This Is It was a planned series of fifty concerts by Michael Jackson to be held at The O2 arena in London. They were scheduled to begin in July 2009 and continue through March 2010. However, with all concerts sold out, Jackson died less than three weeks before the first concert date.

Jackson officially announced the concerts at a press conference held inside The O2 arena. AEG Live, the concert promoters, released a promotional video that took up an entire commercial break, setting a record for ITV. The shows were to be Jackson's first major series of concerts since the HIStory World Tour finished in 1997, and had been cited as one of the year's most important musical events. Over one million people would have attended in total. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, stated that the first 10 dates alone would have earned the singer approximately £50 million. Originally only 10 concerts were announced, however public demand resulted in a 50 date sold out residency. Ticket sales broke several records and AEG Live stated that Jackson could have sold more dates. Jackson's album sales increased following the announcement.

In preparation for the concert series, the pop singer had been collaborating with numerous high profile figures, such as fashion designer Christian Audigier, choreographer Kenny Ortega and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. Prior to Jackson's death, Allgood Entertainment had planned to sue the musician for $40 million, claiming that he had breached an exclusivity agreement with them by agreeing to the This Is It concerts.

In light of Jackson's passing, AEG Live offered either full refunds to all ticket holders or a special souvenir ticket designed by the entertainer. The cancelled 50 shows, its record breaking ticket sales,[1][2][3] and its potential for a worldwide tour,[4][5] deemed Jacksons shows "the greatest concerts that never happened."[6][7] Columbia Pictures acquired the footage of the show rehearsals and made a concert film entitled Michael Jackson's This Is It. The Jackson estate will get 90% of the profit made while the remaining 10% goes to AEG Live. Columbia Pictures guaranteed at least $60 million for the rights. To coincide with the release of the concert footage, an accompanying album was also released.

Contents

Promotion

The announcement of Jackson's first 10 performances was made by the singer himself, during a press conference at The O2 arena on March 5, 2009. As many as 7,000 fans and 350 reporters awaited the singer's arrival, many donning Jackson-related clothing.[8][9][10] The singer commented at the conference, "I just wanted to say that these will be my final show performances in London. When I say this is it, it really means this is it", adding that it was his "final curtain call".[10] Organizers touted the residency as, "dramatic shows [that] promise an explosive return with a band of the highest calibre, a state-of-the-art stage show and incredible surprise support acts".[11]

Hours before the press conference, promotional posters for the residency were displayed around London. Further promotion took up an entire commercial break period on ITV London during Dancing on Ice, the first time this has ever happened for a musical artist. The advert, which cost £1 million to air, was viewed by 11 million people.[12][13][14][15]

Significance

The shows, Jackson's first significant concert events since the HIStory World Tour in 1997, had been cited as one of the year's most important musical events,[16] and as the greatest comeback in the history of pop.[17][18] Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, stated that the first 10 dates would earn the singer approximately £50 million.[9]

The Guardian characterized the announced 10 concerts as an "astonishing comeback for a man who in recent years has been dogged by controversy", adding that the entertainer still had "enormous commercial clout".[19] The Evening Standard stated that the deal was the "showbiz coup of the decade" for AEG Live, while The Independent remarked that the finalized 50 concerts would provide London with a "much-needed" economic boost.[20][21] Joe Cohen, chief executive of Seatwave, told BBC 6 Music that the shows would generate £1 billion for the economy.[22]

Public interest

Interior of The O2 Arena, where the concerts would have been held

Some websites offered early tickets, which the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents warned were fake. "We are warning people not to buy tickets that are not yet on sale because it is unlikely that they will receive those tickets", announced the organization's chief, Graham Burns. He concluded, "It's impossible when the dates haven't been announced to be selling tickets for something when there are no announced dates".[23] Jackson's official website allowed fans to register early for a "pre-sale" draw. Some fans had difficulty applying, as the website could not deal with the large number of registrations—reportedly up to 16,000 applications a second.[24] In the space of 24 hours, nearly a million people from around the world registered for pre-sale tickets, enough to fill the venue 50 times over.[25][26] Tickets that had not even been printed were selling on auction website eBay for £300.[19] Sales of Jackson's albums increased following the press conference. Overnight, sales of Off the Wall rose 200%, Bad rose 110%, Dangerous rose 165% and Thriller 25 rose 155%.[27]

The two day pre-sale began on March 11, and 40 extra dates were added to meet high demand—five of these dates were reserved in their entirety for the public sale.[1] More than 1.5  million fans caused two sites offering pre-sale tickets to crash within minutes of going online.[28] In the space of two hours, 190,000 tickets were sold.[29] Two million people tried to buy pre-sale tickets in the space of 18 hours.[30] Veronica Schmidt of The Times stated of the reception, "Michael Jackson has floored his critics",[31] while organizers proclaimed it a "cultural phenomenon".[32] It was announced that Jackson would break the record for number of shows performed by an artist at a single venue, which had been set by Prince, who hosted a 21-date residency at the same arena. According to Jackson's website, the following records were or would have been broken: "The biggest audience ever to see an artist in one city", "The most amount of people to attend a series of arena shows", "The fastest ticket sales in history".[1] Randy Phillips acknowledged that Jackson could have sold out even more dates, but this would have conflicted with other career plans that the singer had.[33] On March 13, the other 50% of seats for dates 1-45 and all the seats for dates 46-50 went on sale to the general public. Within a few hours, all 50 dates had sold out.[34] At this stage, the sales of King of Pop were up 400% and the sales of Thriller were up 200%.[35] Tickets appeared on eBay for as much as £10,000.[36]

Preparation and concert details

The 50-concert run was originally scheduled to start on July 8, 2009 and conclude on March 6, 2010.[37] Each of the shows would have been performed at The O2 arena in London, which has a capacity of 23,000.[38] Christian Audigier, a fashion designer (and personal friend of Jackson), worked on the clothing for the shows.[39] Jay Ruckel from La Crasia Gloves created Jackson's iconic single glove for the concerts.[40] The costumes he was set to wear during the shows were encrusted with 300,000 Swarovski crystals.[41] In May 2009, thousands of dancers flew in from all around the world to audition for Jackson, who helped select the 12 finalists in person. Kenny Ortega, who had collaborated with Jackson previously, was to work on the overall design and direction of concerts. Ortega said that the final product would have been a "theatrical musical experience".[42][43][44] According to Randy Philips, £13 million was to be spent on producing the concerts, which would have included 18-22 songs and 22 different sets. There also would have been aerial dancing similar to routines by Cirque du Soleil.[43] Carla Ferrigno told Reuters that her husband Lou had been helping Jackson train in advance of the shows. Jackson and Ferrigno had previously worked together.[45]

On May 20, it was announced that the first concert would be pushed back five days to July 13 and three other July dates would be rescheduled for March 2010. AEG Live said that the delay was necessary because more time was needed for dress rehearsals. The revised schedule called for 27 shows between July 13 and September 29, 2009, followed by a three month break, before resuming in the new year with 23 more shows between January 7 and March 6, 2010.[37] Some fans petitioned for the reversal of AEG Live's decision.[46] In late June, several hundred seats for each of the dates were put on sale. These seats were held back until production logistics were worked out.[47]

Dates planned

The following is a list of the planned tour dates for the This Is It concerts:

July 2009
July 13
July 16
July 18
July 22
July 24
July 26
July 28
July 30
August 2009
August 1
August 3
August 10
August 12
August 17
August 19
August 24
August 26
August 28
August 30
September 2009
September 1
September 3
September 6
September 8
September 10
September 21
September 23
September 27
September 29
January 2010
January 7
January 9
January 12
January 14
January 16
January 18
January 23
January 25
January 27
January 29
February 2010
February 1
February 3
February 8
February 10
February 12
February 16
February 18
February 20
February 22
February 24
March 2010
March 1
March 3
March 6

Litigation

In June 2009, concert promoter Allgood Entertainment sued Jackson for $40 million, claiming that the singer, through his manager Frank DiLeo, had agreed to a single and a $30 million reunion concert with The Jackson 5, as well as sister Janet Jackson. According to the concert promoter, the alleged contractual agreement prevented the singer from performing elsewhere before the reunion concert and for a three month period after it. Thus, agreeing to a 50 date residency at The O2 arena was an alleged breach of the Allgood Entertainment contract. The filing company stated that AEG Live knew of the alleged agreement with Jackson and used their dominance in the industry to coerce Jackson into agreeing to the residency.[48][49][50]

Jackson's death and refunds

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, following a cardiac arrest, eighteen days before his planned first show. AEG Live, who persuaded Jackson to sign up for the shows, is currently facing a liability of up to £300 million and an empty venue for the next nine months.[51] The O2 arena has stated that full refunds, including all ticket service charges, will be available to those who purchased tickets through authorised agents, but that "fans will have the option to be sent the actual tickets they would have received to attend the shows in lieu of the full refunds which are being offered."[52] Fans who bought their tickets from private sellers may face difficulties. eBay recommended that purchasers contact their sellers for refunds and stated that those who used PayPal can get their money back if the purchase was made during the last 45 days,[53] then later stated that "all buyers on the site will receive a full refund for their ticket purchase".[54]

Posthumous film and album

Following Jackson's death, AEG stated that they had over "100 hours of footage of preparations and rehearsals for the shows".[55] On August 10, 2009, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved a deal between film distributer Columbia Pictures and AEG Live for the former company to purchase and distribute rehearsal footage of Jackson for a film entitled Michael Jackson's This Is It.[55][56][57] According to court documents, Columbia paid $60 million (£35 million) for rights to the rehearsal footage.[56][58] The papers filed in court had reportedly stated that Jackson's estate will get 90% of the profits and that AEG Live will get the remaining 10% from the film's revenue.[55][59] The film was directed by Kenny Ortega who was also the director of the live concert. It was compiled mostly from footage that was shot as reference for production discussions and was never meant to be shown publicly. Some of the music in the film was added from previous recordings but all of Michael Jackson's voice in the film was from the live performance. The film was released on October 28, 2009.[60]

An accompanying album to the film was also released. Titled This Is It, the compilation was distributed internationally on October 26, and to North America the following day. The two-disc album will feature music "inspired from the documentary of the same name".[61] Of the album, Sony said, "Disc one will feature the original album masters of some of Michael's biggest hits arranged in the same sequence as they appear in the film" and stated that the "the disc ends with two versions of the 'never-released' 'This Is It' [...] This song is featured in the film's closing sequence and includes backing vocals by Michael's brothers, the Jacksons and Alvin Chea of Take 6."[62] Sony added that the second disc will feature previously unreleased versions from Jackson's "catalogue of hits", along with a spoken word poem entitled "Planet Earth" and a 36-page commemorative booklet with "exclusive photos of Michael from his last rehearsal".[62][63]

Personnel

Musicians
Dancers
  • Michael Jackson
  • Nicholas Bass
  • Daniel Celebre (aka Da FunkyMystic)
  • Mekia Cox
  • Chris Grant (aka Kriyss Grant)
  • Misha Gabriel
  • Shannon Holtzapffel
  • Devin Jamieson
  • Charles Klapow
  • Ricardo Reid (aka Dres Reid)
  • Danielle Rueda Watts
  • Tyne Stecklein
  • Timor Steffens (aka Timor Dance)
Production and other personnel

See also

References

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