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Michael Jackson memorial to play live in 88 movie theaters

July 6, 2009 |  1:49 pm

Update (Tuesday, 7:05 PM): Cinedigm didn't end up booking nearly as many theaters for the event as it initially claimed it would. In the end, Dern informed the Times, 47 theaters in 24 states broadcast the memorial service. Most, he said, weren't able to displace previously scheduled films that they had advertised and for which they had sold tickets.

One notable absence: Mann's Chinese 6 in Hollywood. Cinedigm and Mann said that the Los Angeles Police Department requested that they not show the event at the theater because it is on the same block as Jackson's star on Hollywood Boulevard. They were concerned about security in the area, though as it turned out, crowds throughout the city today were relatively mild.

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Michael Jackson's memorial service will be a theatrical event too, as digital events company Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. has arranged with AEG and the singer's family to broadcast the event live in 88 movie theaters.

Approximately 17,000 people will be able to watch the service at 10 a.m. Tuesday in theaters equipped with digital projection systems and satellite dishes that are part of New Jersey-based Cinedigm's network. The company will be using the same feed going out to from Staples Center to television networks and displaying it in high definition on big screens.

"This gives Michael Jackson's fans a chance to view the memorial in a communal setting with other like-minded folks and celebrate his life together," said Jonathan Dern, president of Cinedigm's entertainment group.

The publicity surrounding Jackson's memorial could provide a boost to the business of showing live events in movie theaters. Since it started a year ago, Cinedigm has used its network primarily for sporting events and concerts.

The company's work in concerts gave it a connection to AEG that, Dern said, allowed it to reach out to the event production company as soon as the memorial was announced and close a deal late Sunday night.

"The pedal has been on the metal since this started," he observed.

Tickets to the theatrical broadcasts will be free and provided by theaters first come, first serve. Cinedigm will post a list of participating locations on its website shortly. Dern confirmed that Mann's Chinese 6 in Hollywood will be among them.

He added that Cinedigm is considering showing an encore presentation of the memorial service in theaters for those who can't attend live.

-- Ben Fritz

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