July 27, 2009

Sony's $60-million Michael Jackson gamble: Creepy exploitation or showstopping hit?

Posted: 11:57 PM ET

By Patrick Goldstein via Los Angeles Times

Jackson, here at a June 23 rehearsal, "was full of jokes, full of life," band vocal coach Dorian Holley said.

...Sony Pictures, which reportedly has shelled out close to $60 million for the rights to 80 or so hours of rehearsal footage from the singer’s “This Is It” tour concert. The footage is being edited into a concert film, also tentatively titled “This Is It,” which will hit theaters on Oct. 30. No one from Sony is talking, since the final details of the deal are still in negotiation. But insiders say the lion’s share of the profits from the film will go to Jackson’s estate.

Sony gets its cut from the studio’s distribution fee on the film, though the studio also has to foot the bill for the marketing costs of the release. On the other hand, Sony has worldwide rights for the film, which extend through the movie’s ancillary life, from its theatrical release into what are normally lucrative home video and pay and free TV windows. According to insiders, Sony’s distribution fee is slightly above 10%, with escalator clauses in the deal providing the studio with a bigger cut if the film performs better at the box office.

Is it a good deal for Sony? The simple answer is: Nobody knows. There’s really no precedent for the Jackson death mania, so its impossible to say whether it will spur millions of fans to pay $11 to see footage of his tour rehearsals a full four months after he’s died - especially considering that between now and then the media will once again be full of stories about his excesses after the coroner’s office releases a long-awaited toxicology report.

(Read More)

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

Share this on:
Lori   July 28th, 2009 12:25 am ET

Well it is probably a brillient move for Sony. At least some of this money will go to the estate. I do think it is ghoulish – but maybe it will be very tasteful. We will have to see. I sure hope by October that someone is on the hot seat for MJ's death.

NotStupid   July 28th, 2009 12:36 am ET

if the proceeds are TRULY going to his estate, then i think it shud be ok. at least his kids will get something out of it..
BUT, if there's a hidden conspiracy around it, then its exploitation.
what gets me wondering is, Sony wants real bad MJs share of the other 50% of the beatles catalog publishing rights, (it even states it in Wikipedia, under tommy mottola), they needed MJ to be financially broke to finally sell his remaining 50%to Sony (whom already have the other 50% of the rights). so, im thinking, now they wanna help him raise his estate's worth?.. hmm...

for now, im just hoping that they in fact ARE doing it for the right reasons. i really do.

Toni   July 28th, 2009 12:43 am ET

I'll wait to see what Michaels family has to say, before I go see it.
Have you seen the new one? Like I said, the Dr. will get off and it will all be Michaels fault.

Rose - Canada   July 28th, 2009 12:47 am ET

Just love to see Jim Moret back covering for Larry. He is very smart and has proven he can cover news, entertainment, breaking news and legal issues with a very clear and unbiased opinion. Hope we see more of Jim in any seat on CNN.

daisy   July 28th, 2009 2:34 am ET

Tickets sold out incredibly fast for the concerts, which is why they extended it from 10 to 50 concerts. Mj was still big in the 90s, and "Invincible"still sold 2million copies and even more overseas. So, what is this guy talking about? The media is what made it such a "freak-show," not Jackson. Mj was only 50 yrs old, with still many good performing years left in him. This reporter makes him sound as though he was 100.

vitoria   July 28th, 2009 2:38 am ET

With all the respect for the Jackson's
Michael Jackson's children should have an independent lawyer to make sure that their interest would be protected their father's estate from companies like Sony and others future approaches .
Lets hope that Michael's legacy will be appreciated and well protected
since his talent was and still priceless...
Love you Michael always

daisy   July 28th, 2009 2:46 am ET

This article makes me depressing. America loves its icons, they don't need to die young for us to go on loving them. This reporter is a schmuck!

diana   July 28th, 2009 3:09 am ET

Patrick Goldstein-
Jackson was a beloved father, brother, son, uncle, friend and loved by millions all over the world. I wonder how many people will mourn you when you die- Probably not very many.

Lisa   July 28th, 2009 4:09 am ET

I wish it will bring in enough money for the family to buy back Neverland.

helena   July 28th, 2009 5:27 am ET

I would love to see another MJ movie But only if he was alive. Now this is all just a money making scam. why not do it when he was alive why now!!!!!!!!!

Adrienne   July 28th, 2009 6:01 am ET

"Until now, the media has essentially given Jackson a free ride, printing the legend, largely relegating the tawdry tales of child molestation, obsessive cosmetic surgery and Wacko Jacko eccentricities to the back pages. " I couldn't disagree with that comment more. The media in life and death has made a mock out of MJs life. Although, I am a die hard fan, there is no way ever that I would even spen money to see this flick, if that's what you call it. As much as Dr. Murray, Dr. Klein, MJs inner circle are involved and so is Sony and AEG. I hope that LAPD figures that out pretty quick. And to the many die hard MJ fans save your $11 bucks and give it to your favorite children's charity. Although the media does not want to remember him that way, but his fans sure do. MJ was not only a greatest entertainer EVER, he loved chldren VERY much.

Malaika Afrika   July 28th, 2009 7:08 am ET

i think its BOTH exploitation & showstopping

Jacquelyn   July 28th, 2009 7:18 am ET

Exploitation. They was in a rush to make that deal. I guess they figured they make some more money off of him even though Michael could not stand them.

lydia   July 28th, 2009 9:01 am ET

Hi Mr King iam a single parent of three wonderfull, bright children . I do my best to incourage my children in everything about people and live.iam a latina that can here to have a better future for myself and now for my children also and dont matter what to have faith and always believe in God and to keep they heads up high at all times. everyone makes nasty comments about michael Jackson, President Obama they are kind, loving, giving, loyal and children of The most Highest and Powerfull Men in the entere World and His name is Jesus Christ. And He loves us all the same way dont matter the color of your skin. Because whenever that day comes we all will be Judge. But thre is one thing that is in the bible that whosoever was first,will be come last and whatsoever you reap also you shall sow. And i believe that what is apply for one it should be for all.

Rozie   July 28th, 2009 11:39 am ET

Is Sony feeling some sort of guilt? Are we forgetting something here? Why is anyone even considering allowing Sony to have a part in this – have you forgotten that Michael Jackson was on the verge of suing Sony a while back. Back in the early 2000-2001, Sony didn't do enough to promote and market Michael Jackson’s "Invincible," which was released in November 2001 on Sony's Epic label. It sold 2 million copies in the U.S. and only a few million more in the rest of the world - lackluster figures by 'Jackson's' standards. Sony claimed it had done plenty, having spent $50 million producing and promoting the album, but it balked at Jackson's request in early 2002 for $8 million to shoot a third video for the album. In July 2002, Michael Jackson Michael Jackson reiterated his charges that the recording industry is thoroughly racist, and that it (Sony) launched a smear campaign against him (Michael) as soon as he became as big a seller as Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Which brings to mind, have the three (3) sets of assets of Jackson's "master recordings" been returned to him from Sony? It has been seven years since the agreement for this transactopm to transpire has passed, hence, Sony should no longer be in possession of those recordings and which would mean that royalties should no longer continue to be split with Sony. The lawyers for Michael Jackson need to be involved to help cease this atrocity from happening. Michael created his one legacy years ago with his very own HIStory DVDs and home movies – there is no need for him to be exploited after his death for the personal gain of this Sony, AEG and/or the family as it may be. Maybe Sony should not try to count their eggs before they hatch.

EO, San Diego   July 28th, 2009 12:36 pm ET

I, for one, am going to go see it in the movie theatre & purchase the DVD. I'll consider purchasing it on Pay-for-View based on the price. I have also re-purchased all of MJ's solo career CD/DVDs.

I believe in supporting his children. This public-jury member is out on supporting his mother because of the siblings (minus Janet) and Joe Jackson. Should she (and her atty, McMillION$) continue down the road of contesting the executor team MJ set in place, then I'll lead a parade for her being disinherited, for not respecting his wishes.

I think SONY is brilliant, along with Team Branca, for purchasing the film from AEG. This keeps the money within the Sony team, and very possibly will pay off his debts to Sony that much faster.

As for the rest of the Jackson family's attempt to regain their J5 status (again, except Janet who has been consistant in her solo career), I refuse to purchase anything from them. Not a penny will I knowingly contribute to their residuals. Why? Bottom line it goes back into the hands of that dasterdly father, Joe Jackson.

I won't watch their upcoming reality show on A&E (which they renegotiated fees from around $10-100,000 per to about $10 million.. check for specific amounts, but something like that); I won't purchase La Toya's new tribute single–even if she donates the profits to charity (probably named Jackson Family Charity–with her recent Rodeo Drive shopping addiction as the beneficiary); I won't read or purchase any books by the Jacksons– except for Moonwalker and MJ's poems. I won't purchase any tickets to any concerts, tributes or otherwise, that include any of MJ's siblings (except Janet).

The Jackson family should truly be ashamed of the greedy way they have not only lived off MJ through his talents and life, but in his death. It is really disgraceful.

AEG & Sony are acting respectfully. MJ's fans WANT to see this film. We want to hear his unreleased music. We want picture books for our coffeetables. We want to see Neverland– but the jury is out on where to bury him.

Why keep everything in a vault and keep it for generations from now who didn't know him as we do today.

Toni   July 28th, 2009 12:45 pm ET

Disrespecting Michaels family ,is disrespecting him and his children. HE LOVED HIS FAMILY AND THEY LOVED HIM. Want proof, listen to some of Micchaels latest videos. AEG and Sony are vulchers just like the rest of his recent business dealers. It's just too bad Michael couldn't stop them in time.

Lynn   July 28th, 2009 1:07 pm ET

If sony is making a single nickel I wont be going/buying.

NotStupid   July 28th, 2009 3:44 pm ET

Sony has washed their hands clean of off Michaels downward spiral, n ultimately, his death.
Now they want to make money off him.
they do sound fishy.

but they noe its what we want, so theyre seizing the moment.
but, come to think of it, if they didnt feel that they cud make money out of it, why wud they wud rush in to close the deal n be willing to fork out that much money?.. im sure they still want the back catalog publishing rights. but, that wud be less likely if theyre actually helping increase jacksons estate worth.. unless, the profits never make it on jacksons estate to begin with.

im gonna keep a watchful eye on this. they probly think that when the movie is out, people wud be so interested in the movie, rather than seeing in whose pockets the money is being put into.

MJ FAN   July 28th, 2009 3:50 pm ET

I have my $11.00 ready now. I hope that his death was not "this is it" and we will be entertained for many years with this recorded rehersal and as yet unleased materials.

MIMI   July 28th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

People... dont buy anything mj reheral related to AEG or Sony, ok... ther are part and parcel of this evil conspiracy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cocovelvet   July 28th, 2009 4:01 pm ET

Uuuhhh!!!! How damn fast SONY wants to get on with it before time catches up with them....... probably you are not fast enough because if you think you are calculating that by october, the investigations will still be dragging on, you would probably be in for a BIG SURPRISE!!

Lets say, if Murray have already felt the heat quite enough by tomorrow or even next week and really start talking, where will your showstopping gamble be!!???.......the deal will be way back forgotten and you'll be sitting in the next defendants seat in court to answer to your share of the deeds.......PERIOD.

You know what, tomorrow I'm taking that $11 to one of MJ's charity organisations....

daisy   July 28th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

Instead of releasing these rehearsals, why not just rerelease a concert tour such as the Dangerous tour, or history tour or piece together his best moments. Make it a true celebration...and don't forget his humanitarian efforts. Include his visits to hospitals and orphanages. Let's remember him at his best.

Maureen (UK)   July 28th, 2009 7:38 pm ET

Quote, "No one from Sony is talking." No, because Sony treated Michael very badly and they're scared some one might ask them about it. Then the fans won't buy their DVD's.
Michael would not have wanted Sony to make any more profit out of him. Hopefully, the Jackson family will have a lawyer to stop this. I'm only buying if Sony are out of the deal !

Maureen (UK)   July 28th, 2009 7:44 pm ET

To the press.
Could you please ask Sony what they'll do if the MJ fans refuse to buy the new DVD because of the way they treated Michael.

Toni   July 28th, 2009 7:56 pm ET

Well everyone, I definately hear what you are saying, and I agree. But there are enough people out there that don't care what the outcome will be...they will go see it anyway. If the children don't get the money and the cataloge ends up in sony's hands, then we will know exactly why. I PERSONALLY WILL NOT PURCHASE ANY FUTURE SONY PRODUCTS REGARDLESS.

Toni   July 28th, 2009 8:09 pm ET

I can bet that the Jackson family will sell their souls before they let sony or anyone other than MJs kids end up with that catalogue.

s.s.   July 28th, 2009 8:35 pm ET

Could be both.

I just hope that it's done a way that honors his life & legacy. If so, I would watch.

As for the money, if the majority goes to his estate I would feel ok with it. He kids would benefit & 20% of his estate is supposed to go to true MJ fashion.

Toni   July 28th, 2009 8:59 pm ET

Yeah. I would love to see it, but God will it be sad. But , Michael died trying to do it, so I guess we really do owe it to him to see it. If Sony thinks the Jacksons will ever let that catalogue out of Michaels estate, I think they will have a huge fight on their hands. I honestly hope Mrs.Jackson gets on that board.
Hey, I bet you guys don't know about that. I'll be right back. If this blog goes off before I get back, go to one of the top two.

Ken Kieffer   July 28th, 2009 9:48 pm ET

How could you NOT have asked Powell about his speech before the UN–which lead, in great part, to Iraq & thousands of deaths?

Dirty Diana   July 28th, 2009 9:53 pm ET

This Cd cannot win. If MJ appears sickly and weak, it will be painful to watch. But, if he appears in great form and full of energy, that will be equally as hard to watch. Because, you will know then that he would have comeback to us and been able to start a new life. How sad to think , "what could have been?"..and "if only".......Tears will stream down his true fans regardless.

vitoria   July 28th, 2009 10:44 pm ET

Is Sony using Michael's children to market this project ?
I urge the Jackson's family not to sell out the rehearsals tape to Sony
we the fans will never forget and love our Icon Michael , there is no rush at this time of grieving to make any financial decision , Sony will use this opportunity to cash out in this very sensitive time for Michael's family and fans .
The only reason they mention his children is because that would make everyone fell sympathetic towards this deal , lets see how this companies that cash out of Michael's talent through his life time will behave 10 years from now , Michael' legacy will be support regardless of multimillion dollar offer to exposure his brillant talent
he didn't need them when he was alive , but they will always need his undying talents legendary artistic work .
This tapes are priceless , Michael's family do not need to make any rush decisions , the value will only increase with time !

Toni   July 28th, 2009 11:42 pm ET

Read my comment on Murry searches continue. It will show that at this time, the Jacksons do not have any control,but are fighting desperately to get it. Please read.

vitoria   July 29th, 2009 12:38 am ET

what can we do to support michael's family to get control of these tapes ?
Is that the case ?

Nelly   July 29th, 2009 12:42 am ET

I think if this film will be done in good faith, why not? Michael's children will somehow gain from it. But Sony must make sure their moves won't be criticized by the public in time 'coz there are lots & lots of Michael's fans watching them around! Good luck!

Toni   July 29th, 2009 1:45 am ET

Right now, AEG will not let her see the conract that Michael signed to do the shows. THEY WILL NOT LET HER HAVE ACCESS TO ANYTHING.
The executors for the will were bitterly estranged from Michael after 2004. The will was signed in 2002. She is afraid that these men no longer care about Michaels best interests and that everything her son worked his whole life for is and will end up in the wrong hands. Mrs. Js atty apparently have witnesses that the relationship with Michael and the executors he assigned his will too, was estranged, and that he would not have wanted them to have control of his estate.
All she is asking for, is a seat on the board, so she has some control and can watch over Michaels,life work, I guess you could call it. They are denying her this stating that her presence on the board would be " a nuisance and invasive". There is a claus that states if anyone listed in the will "contests" it, they then lose any money left to them. Because of the children, thats not an option at this time. So she simply wants to have a spot on the board. MJ has had his mother sit in on all of his boards and any negotations within the past few years , according to her atty, with the exception of the "this is it" concert tour, which sounds odd to her. That is why she wants to see the AEG contract that Michael signed, to see how many he signed up for. All and All, I feel Mrs. J has every right to anything that her son gave his life for. Every penny their daddy made should go to those children, and Mrs. J is the only one that can make sure that happens. As of right now, she has no right to anything of her sons. Cruel and appauling. She is her sons mother, and she will fight until she cant anymore, just like he did, and for that, I worry about her. She needs help.

Daisy   July 29th, 2009 2:12 am ET

Ms. Jackson needs a very good attorney. Makes you really wonder ........about how mj's death makes the wrong people so wealthy. Somthing really stinks about this picture.

Toni   July 29th, 2009 2:18 am ET

I think she has a few together, not just one, but there is always a leader. This woman watched her son go through pure hell over the years, and to now have to watch all of his life work be thown away by vulchers is heartbreaking.

vitoria   July 29th, 2009 2:19 am ET

Can Ms Jackson protest this action by proving michael's temporary incapacity to make the right decisions while he signed this contract
since he was influenced by all these medications ?

Toni   July 29th, 2009 2:26 am ET

She has talked about that I think, but had no proof that he was under any influence. I wish he would have taken a family member with him as a witness, but he kind of kept his family out of his dealings until just the past few years ,I guess. then he started including his mother in EVERTHING. Make syou wonder why, and makes you wonder why she was left out of the "this is it" negotiations, because apparently he had her present at everything.

vitoria   July 29th, 2009 2:34 am ET

God Bless this gifted family , we will support Michael's family decisions
and I hope they get the right support they need .
Tony are you a friend of the family ?

Toni   July 29th, 2009 2:44 am ET

Thanks, I have loved this family since I was 5yrs old{I'm 46 now}. And anyone that trys to say they are only after Michaels money, makes me ill. If anyone deserves everything that Michael accomplished throughout his life, it would be his children and his mother. It would kill me if I had to watch this happen with one of my children. Michael was not an idol or icon to her, he was her son, her little boy. My heart breaks for her.

Toni   July 29th, 2009 2:52 am ET

Oh, I just understood your question. No I do not know them personally. But I'm still a true friend.

AJP   July 29th, 2009 5:08 am ET

Lou Dobbs' recent reference of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow as a "Tea Bagging Queen" is beyond disrespectful (not to mention birther comments last week. . I certainly have no intention to follow the news on CNN.

Betty Morton   July 29th, 2009 5:25 am ET

HI , I am wondering through-out all that has been and will be said in Michael Jacksons case in regards to drugs, where lies his responsibility as an addict in all of this. No matter what has happened we are told in the recovery world that we have to take as addicts/alcoholics responsibility for our addictions/disease, instead of finding a scapegoat for it. We already have used hundreds of reasons why we do this, but the bottom line is it is we are addicts & alcoholics and it is our own responsibility and no one elses, no matter how we sugar coat it and no matter who we are. In the end we know we can only land in three places, jail, hospital or death, if we do not seek help, which we will not do until we each hit our own bottom. If someone is blamed for his death, star or no star, what message is this to those who want help or to those who have already got it. Do we start to prosecute every enabler each of us had and/or still does have? Or, is this only for the elite?

charla ray (Indiana)   July 29th, 2009 6:57 am ET

i grew up on their music all my life.god bless his family and his children. i hope kathrine gets the kids.

Comments have been closed for this article

Keep up to date with Larry

Follow him on Twitter

Become a fan on Facebook

Contact us
Go Behind The Scenes


LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.

With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.

Order from:
Barnes & Noble

King of Hearts

Larry King's King of Hearts

Saving a heart a day is the goal! Learn more about the Foundation and it's efforts to help the uninsured

Visit the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP