"This Is It" to Earn $400 Million

Michael Jackson’s movie and CD is expected to bring as much as $400 million in sales worldwide.

“Michael Jackson’s This Is It” album, featuring one new song, goes on sale starting today. The movie with the same title opens Oct. 28 in more than 90 countries, including 3,400 theaters in the U.S., according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.

More than 1,000 U.S. shows were sold out as of Oct. 22, according to the online ticket vendor Fandango.com. Cinemas in London, Sydney, Bangkok and Tokyo also reported sellouts, according to Sony Corp., which is releasing the film and the album. In the U.K., sales topped those of “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” at the Vue Entertainment Ltd. chain, Bloomberg reports.

Kenny Ortega, the choreographer and spectacle maestro who worked with Jackson on the elaborate London shows (which the King of Pop professed would be his last), was brought in as director when the film deal was struck with Sony Pictures after the singer's death in June.

Ortega, who also made the High School Musical movies, says the job was to take the grab bag of materials and make them work together — somehow.

"It's the puzzling together of remnants to create something that had continuity to it," he says. "It borrows from both the documentary and the concert film idea, but it's neither of the two. … I said to Sony not to promote it as a concert film because it's going to confuse people. We never were a concert. We never got that far. We had three weeks left of rehearsal."

But Ortega says This Is It does feature "wall-to-wall music. You see Michael onstage rehearsing many of the songs that would've appeared in the concert. But there's no one there watching except for a handful of dancers. And 18,000 empty seats."

He calls the finished product "a musical mosaic," USA Today reports.

Chicago Sun-Times quoted Kenny Ortega as saying, "I didn't want to do it," the director of the "High School Musical" franchise and the upcoming "Footloose" remake says. "Michael's death weighed on me hugely and still does. I was so shaken up, overwhelmed with grief and sadness, I couldn't even think of editing the footage we had into a final film."

It's been a crushing year for Ortega, who also is mourning the deaths of Patrick Swayze and John Hughes, his colleagues on several films. Jackson holds a special place, though.

"We enjoyed a lot of the same things," Ortega says. "While we were putting this concert together, we would giggle like kids, whispering ideas back and forth, and sometimes we would just sit together singing Broadway songs from 'Oliver' or 'The Roar of the Greasepaint -- The Smell of the Crowd,' " Chicago Sun-Times reports.

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