Monday, September 28, 2009

Biggest Doc Ever?

Jose here with some box office news. Reuters is reporting that Michael Jackson's This Is It has broken advance ticket records all over the world.

The documentary/concert film spans the rehearsals of Jackson's eponymous "comeback" that would've taken place in London before the entertainer's sudden death.

In cities like Los Angeles and New York, fans waited outside in line for days before the tickets went on sale yesterday morning. In Tokyo, the film sold $1 million in advance tickets. With the undying passion of Jackson fans could this eventually become the highest grossing documentary of all time? This genre hasn't been particularly lucky in the money making department.

The highest grossing documentaries stand as follows:

1. Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore) $119,194,771
2. March of the Penguins $77,437,223
3. Earth $32,011,576
4. Sicko (Michael Moore) $24,540,079
5. An Inconvenient Truth $24,146,161
6. Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore) $21,576,018
7. Madonna: Truth or Dare $15,012,935
8. Religulous $13,011,160
9. Winged Migration $11,689,053
10. Super Size Me $11,536,423

(numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo)

Most of the films in the list deal with sociopolitical or nature subjects. The only film dealing with a celebrity (the Queen of Pop ironically) was released almost two decades ago, so it's not easy to predict how the box office will adjust to Jackson.

His death is the biggest news event in the world so far this year (several media outlets discussed how much was too much with more serious issues affecting the world) and Sony Pictures -- who bought the footage days after his death and rushed to deliver the movie -- are pushing it to become the worldwide movie event.

But honestly, how much is too much in this case? Where does a film studio cross the line between money-making thirst and appreciation for the audiences? (an album with the music that "inspired" the movie is already on its way out with original album masters of some of Michael's biggest hits arranged in the same sequence as they appear in the film...) They can argue that they were trying to make it up to all the fans who didn't get to see their idol live, but for others this might just seem a distasteful move to bank in on a tragedy.

And how will movie critics react to the film? As of today-at this hour at least-there are no official reviews for the film on the web and what will happen if when they come out they're not positive? Does the sensitivity of the subject matter affect how a movie is reviewed by professionals? This is one movie to keep our eyes on, as it's sure to give lots more to talk about. Have you already bought tickets?


xStitch said...

I thought it doesnt open until a month worldwide?


I'm always so proud of Madonna for Truth or Dare such a brilliant movie and such a stealth reminder that few celebrities would be as entertaining to follow around for months on end.

but that said I'm alos always alarmed that it only made $15 million. Shoulda been required viewing! ;)

NoNo said...

Your right, it's not out until next month and it's only open for 2 weeks. No one has seen it yet and I doubt they'll pre-screen it for critics. They'd be crazy not to extend their screenings since it will make so much money. To be honest I think it's just a ploy to get as many advance ticket sales as possible and then they'll extend it due to "overwhelming demand." Either that or they'll bring it back around Christmas time...very predictable.


i fixed the post. it looks like it opens between the 28th and the 30th in 70ish countries. but my math might be wrong. I agree with NoNo that it'll be predictably "extended"

it's a win/win for them to pretend there's a limited time to see it.

NoNo said...

Nathaniel, I always mean to ask what you think about Michael's sister Janet. She's my favorite pop icon.

Casey Fiore said...

Am I the only person who is disturbed by the commercialization of Michael Jackson's death? In my opinion the matter was given way too much attention in the first place. No disrespect to Michael or the Jackson family because it is obviously a tragedy when anyone dies, but the press should not be so concerned considering what a social pariah they've made of him over the past two decades. After his funeral Joe Jackson started plugging a new record and his brothers were discussing a tour with his kids. This "documentary" represents all that is wrong about media and the entertainment industry as it is clearly a commercial venture to capitalize on a mans death

Glenn said...

They did the same thing with that 3D Miley Cyrus concert movie. It was an exclusive two week thing and then, of course, they kept it showing until they stopped making money.

Of course, that was before there was a new 3D movie taking up screens every two weeks so - strangely - that Miley Cyrus movie was ahead of the curve.

ZiZo said...

If it makes crazy money, they will probably go for something like: ANOTHER 2 WEEKS EXCLUSIVE ONLY! Get your tickets now... And so they will go on until it stops making money.

By the way, the same thing will probably happen with Toy Story 3D.