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$20.1 million is it for 'This Is It'

October 29, 2009 | 10:54 am

GroveJackson Sony's unusual Wednesday launch for its Michael Jackson movie "This Is It" yielded decidedly mixed results.

The documentary sold $20.1-million worth of tickets around the world, with $7.4 million coming from the U.S. and Canada and $12.7 million from 97 foreign countries.

The United Kingdom was the biggest foreign market for "This Is It," bringing $1.9 million. France was next with $1.4 million, followed by Japan with $1.2 million, German with $1.1 million, and China with $730,000.

A small amount of the total came from night-time shows in the Western United States on Tuesday starting at 9 PM Pacific, but the vast majority is from screenings on Wednesday.

Opening movies worldwide on a Wednesday outside of summer of the holidays is extremely rare. On that basis, Sony can claim a solid launch when measured against any comparable films.

However, given the huge amounts of hype surrounding the movie and the $60 million Sony spent to make the movie, outside of its marketing costs, the opening is none too impressive.

Nighttime shows in the domestic market appear to have been particularly slow, as several studio executives had been expecting the movie to gross over $10 million domestically as of early evening Wednesday. Before the launch, executives at Sony and elsewhere said the movie could easily collect $20 million domestically on its opening day, which turned out to be the global total.

Sony is expecting relatively weak grosses today as well as Saturday, when moviegoers will likely be celebrating Halloween instead of going to theaters. Friday will be the critical day in determining the ultimate performance of "This Is It," because it will demonstrate whether word of mouth brings people who weren't rabid Michael Jackson fans to see the film.

While it's difficult to predict the ultimate worldwide performance of "This Is It" after one day, it appears that the domestic gross through Sunday will end up around $30 million, on the very low end of expectations before the picture launched.

Update (11:06 AM): Jackson fans who turned out loved the film. U.S. moviegoers gave "This Is It" an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: There were no lines for the first show of "This Is It" at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Credit: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times

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