LOS ANGELES – Audiences will get to see the King of Pop perform one more time later this year after a judge approved a major deal to produce a movie fashioned from footage of his final rehearsals.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved a deal on Friday between Michael Jackson’s estate, concert promoter AEG Live and Columbia Pictures on Friday. He announced the ruling Monday during a hearing where a separate merchandising deal is being considered.
Columbia Pictures announced the movie will be in theatres on Oct. 30. It will be crafted from hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage shot in Los Angeles weeks before Jackson was to kick off 50 comeback concerts in London, and feature interviews with Jackson’s friends and collaborators.
Portions of the movie will be shown in 3-D, the studio announced Monday.
“People who have seen this footage are astounded by the amazing quality of Michael Jackson’s performance,” said Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This historic recording of the last time he sang and danced on stage shows the legendary artist in an incredibly powerful way, with crystal clear images and sound.”
Under the terms of the proposed contract, the film will have to be screened for Jackson’s estate and cannot include any footage that puts the superstar in a bad light.
Columbia Pictures paid $60 million for rights to the film, and the contract states Jackson’s estate is slated to receive 90 per cent of its profits.
Jackson died on June 25, days before he was set to embark to England for his comeback shows. Beckloff, in his role overseeing the estate, must approve all business dealings made by Branca and McClain in their role as special administrators, which they were granted in Jackson’s will.
The judge had until Monday to approve the film and allowed Jackson’s mother, Katherine, to review the contracts and raise any objections. Katherine Jackson did not object to the film, but her attorneys have raised questions about other agreements concerning AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado. The estate wants to enter into agreements with the two companies for merchandising.
The judge is considering appointing an attorney to represent the children’s interests in the deals.
A proposed agreement calls for Bravado to receive worldwide rights to Jackson merchandise, including items such as trading cards, apparel and cellphone themes.
Burt Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said he has raised several issues with the proposed agreements.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney representing the estate’s current administrators, said some of those suggestions are “not acceptable.” He said the contracts were aggressively negotiated and there was little room to strike a better deal.
“We feel that we’re being second-guessed,” Weitzman said. “I’m not sure why.”
Katherine Jackson apparently wants AEG Live to give its footage of her son’s concert preparations to the estate, according to discussions held in open court on Monday.
“Under no circumstances would AEG agree to such a thing,” said Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for the concert promoter.
Columbia pictures is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony.