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'This Is It' on its way to $200 million-plus, thanks mainly to foreigners

"This Is It" poster He's huge in Japan.

Michael Jackson's swan song "This Is It" made up for a so-so start domestically by doing more than twice as much business overseas.

The movie sold $32.5 million over its first five days in the U.S. and Canada and $68.5 million in 97 other countries. It stands with "Angels and Demons" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" as one of a handful of films that more than doubled its domestic opening in foreign countries.

Japan, where Jackson is particularly huge, was the highest-grossing territory. "This Is It" collected $10.4 million there, making it the third-biggest opening of the year. Britain, where Jackson's "This Is It" concert was scheduled to play, was No. 2, with $7.4 million, followed by Germany, France, Australia and China.

That's particularly good for Sony Pictures because movies often decline slower overseas than domestically. The movie's foreign opening was right in line with expectations going into the weekend, but the five-day domestic take of $32.5 million was at the bottom of what the studio and others in Hollywood thought was possible based on initial hype and pre-release surveys.

Everywhere it played, the best news for "This Is It" is that it didn't fall dramatically after a so-so start on Wednesday. Although many similar concert movies open big and fizzle fast, the Jackson film had a solid weekend compared with its Wednesday grosses. Domestic ticket sales were down less than 10% on Saturday, better than many in Hollywood had expected on Halloween and a sign of positive buzz.

Now that Sony has, in a not-too-surprising move, extended the movie beyond a previously announced two-week run, the film will almost certainly gross more than $200 million worldwide. That would be a healthy performance given Sony's investment of $60 million for the rights to make the movie, plus a relatively modest marketing spend.

There were no other new pictures in wide release as most studios avoided the weekend with Halloween on a Saturday. Sony was forced to take the date as it wanted to launch the film as quickly as possible after Jackson's unexpected death and every other fall weekend was crowded with big releases.

Boondock Saints II In limited release, however, Apparition debuted "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" to a solid $461,614 at 68 theaters. That's more than 15 times as much as the ultra-violent original, an infamous flop in 2000 that found renewed life on DVD.

Interest in the filmmakers behind "Napoleon Dynamite" seems to be fading, however, as their new picture, "Gentlemen Broncos," debuted to a dismal $10,000 at two locations.

Most movies already in the market experienced hefty declines because of Halloween, but "Paranormal Activity" and "Amelia" both held on particularly well, thanks in part to added theaters.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "This Is It" (Sony): $21.3 million over the weekend, bringing its total since debuting late Tuesday to $32.5 million. Foreign grosses, meanwhile, have hit $68.5 million.

2. "Paranormal Activity" (Paramount): $16.5 million, down 22% as it added 459 theaters. U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to date are $84.8 million.

3. "Law Abiding Citizen" (Overture/Film Department): Declined 41% on its third weekend to $7.3 million, bringing its total to $51.4 million.

4. "Couples Retreat" (Universal/Relativity): $6.1 million, marking a drop of 43% on its fourth weekend. Domestic total: $88.7 million.

5. "Saw VI" (Lionsgate): Fell 61% on its second weekend to $5.6 million. U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to date are $22.8 million.

6. "Where the Wild Things Are" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/Legendary): $5.1 million, down 64% on its third weekend. Its total is now $61.8 million.

7. "The Stepfather" (Sony Screen Gems): $3.4 million, with a third weekend decline of 45%. $24.7 million to date.

8. "Astro Boy" (Summit/Imagi): Fell 55% on its second weekend to $3 million. Ticket sales so far total $10.9 million.

9. "Amelia" (Fox Searchlight): $3 million, down only 23% as it added 250 theaters on its second weekend. $8.3 million in grosses to date.

10. "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" (Universal/Relativity): Fell 55% on its second weekend to $2.8 million, bringing total domestic ticket sales to $10.5 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: A "This Is It" poster. Credit: Sony Pictures.

Bottom photo: Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery in "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day." Credit: Apparition.

Comments () | Archives (21)

I'm THRILLED for Michael Jackson, his estate, his family and everyone who loves Michael for all the right reasons: he was an electrifying performer and a warm, wonderful, gracious and generous human being. MJ Haters, get over it. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Mike has the last word. Love you, MJ!

How would you grade Michael Jackson's documentary, "This is It"?


Take a sec and vote anonymously.

Hm,Michael jackson really was a great person.We all miss him.Rest in Peace Michael

I saw the Jackson movie last night and will buy the DVD if/when it becomes available. While his life was filled with conflict and trouble, his talent was undeniable. He was a genius in his field and that cannot be denied by anyone with a normal thought process.
We really are a little poorer without him.

Who wrote this moronic review? How is it that MJ's movie is #1 at the box office @ 21 million and it had a "so-so" opening? They have already made back their money? Only in America could this be considered a so-so opening. No wonder MJ was doing his last concerts overseas!

Imagine: MJ's REHEARSALS, grossed 21 million over the week and at least another 10 million from Wed-Thurs. What other film has done that lately?

This is why the newspaper business is going down. Too much opinion and not enough reporting. How about just saying the movie grossed 100 million worlwide? Geez!!!!

Well expectedly EU liberals and losers coughed up their cash for this sad piece of humanity, like his 'estate' needed any more money. Get a life people.

I think MJ's death gets even more attention than his top time.

of course foreigners would cough up the money to see jackson they think he was a god. most countries over there think its ok to molest a child.

You can't stand the love, Dave? Only name-calling and hate for you, I guess.


I'm not surprised This is It is doing so well - MJ is a world wide cultural icon. Plus, it's got all the celebrities endorsing it, as well as many critics. You can check out the good reviews it's getting here: http://moviereviewintelligence.com/index.aspx?BID=27&RID=669&CID=0. I'm sure it'll continue to do well in the box office if the word of mouth can last as long as its short release.

It was really fantastic and it made me crazy with super dances of Michael Jackson. When I was too little I imitate him. But I could never be like him. When I was young i became a huge fan of him. When I heard that he passed away I could not bear and I cried, cried and cried throughout the week. By the by This Is It was marvelous movie

Offer dvd as a gift certificate, upon arrival when released. The 3 to 4 months window can than be respected. People/fans can go to the theatre while waiting for their dvd.

"Foreign markets..."

Isn't it considered "worldwide markets"? Using the word foreign makes it sound like the US still hasn't considered itself part of the rest of the world.

Well expectedly American racists utterly failed to destroy the career of Michael Jackson, who proved to be the biggest pop star in history.

20% of his estate has to go to designated charities.

Get a life losers.

Re. joel | November 01, 2009 at 07:24 PM

"In most of the countries over there", people don't care whether Jackson was black or white.

In the States, almost every pedophile that made to the news is a white man.

To Joel who wrote

"of course foreigners would cough up the money to see jackson they think he was a god. most countries over there think its ok to molest a child"

How ignorant to say something like that. I think its in the US that petitions were going around to free Polanski from his crime because all of a sudden its ok to get away with raping a 13yr old girl, and not "over there".
Molesting children is wrong and most, if not all countries, everywhere know that and have laws in place to support the safety and well-being of children. And if I remember correctly wasn't it in the US he were he was acquitted from any wrong-doing?

what a stupid article. the film grossed USD 200m+ and it accounts as a so-so opening???

America get real, open your eyes and see the reality.

I love you MJ, and miss you. I know you would be happy to know that you are still the "King of Pop" even after you are no longer here on earth with us. You will never be forgotten, you are the best entertainer of the last 40 years and probably of the 20th century. Loved your movie.


Uh, the millions of MJ fans all over the world were never foreigners to Michael ... they were family. Just another reporter that doesn't get it. There is a whole wide world outside of the USA, full of billions of people, read up on it sometime.

Get a life America. You envied MJ so much that you drummed up so much negative comments about him, nevermind if he was acquitted in a sensationalized case where all allegations could not be proven. Foreigners know how to appreciate a God given talent that comes once in a lifetime. MJ should not have been burried in a land full of hate and envy.


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