Jackson movie tops box office

Michael Jackson’s This Is It pulled in $101 million worldwide in its first five days, and distributor Sony is extending the farewell performance film beyond its planned two-week run.

Michael Jackson rehearses at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles: Farewell film run extended.

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s This Is It pulled in $101 million worldwide in its first five days, and distributor Sony is extending the farewell performance film beyond its planned two-week run.

The film was the No. 1 Halloween thriller domestically with a $21.3 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The previous weekend’s No. 1 movie, Paramount’s low-budget horror sensation Paranormal Activity, slipped to No. 2 with $16.5 million, lifting its total to $84.8 million.

This Is It raised its domestic total to $32.5 million. The movie pulled in $68.5 million overseas, including $10.4 million in Japan, $6.3 million in Germany, $5.8 million in France and $3.2 million in China.

“He’s just loved everywhere on the planet,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America. Every continent in the world loved him and his music.”

In Britain, where Jackson had planned a marathon series of 50 London concerts starting last July, the movie earned $7.6 million.

This Is It captures Jackson in behind-the-scenes performances in the weeks before his death last June, as he rehearsed his biggest hits for the London shows.

This Is It originally was scheduled for a theatrical run of only two weeks. The studio has extended it a few more weeks domestically, leaving it in theatres through Thanksgiving weekend, one of the year’s busiest moviegoing times.

Sony plans to extend the run of This Is It overseas on a country-by-country basis, with most territories probably getting one to three weeks of extra playing time, Bruer said.

The studio paid $60 million for film rights to Jackson’s rehearsal footage, an investment the movie recouped in days.

“They bet $60 million on this and got $101 million in just five days,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. “It was a gamble and a bet that paid off.”

The movie fell far short of last year’s $31.1 million opening weekend domestically for Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.

But Bruer said This Is It has a shot at surpassing the $65.3 million domestic total during the entire run of Cyrus’ movie, which tops the all-time charts for music documentaries.

Worldwide, This Is It already has shot past Cyrus’ concert film. Cyrus mainly appeals to American teens, and her movie got only a limited release overseas, where it took in about $5 million to give the film a global total of just over $70 million.

This Is It played in 3,481 theatres domestically, about five times the number for Cyrus’ movie. But Best of Both Worlds ran in 3-D, for which theatres typically charge a few dollars more.

Sony hopes for a longer shelf life for This Is It, which drew older crowds that catch movies on their own schedule, with less regard for the opening-weekend frenzy.

Fans older than 25 accounted for 62 per cent of the audience, according to Sony.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com:

1. Michael Jackson’s This Is It, $21.3 million.

2. Paranormal Activity, $16.5 million.

3. Law Abiding Citizen, $7.3 million.

4. Couples Retreat, $6.1 million.

5. Saw VI, $5.6 million.

6. Where the Wild Things Are, $5.1 million.

7. The Stepfather, $3.4 million.

8. Astro Boy, $3.04 million.

9. Amelia, $3 million.

10. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, $2.8 million.

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