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Michael Jackson concert promoter AEG could still see a financial gain

July 3, 2009 |  7:21 am

Local concert promoter AEG spent well over $20 million in preparation for Michael Jackson's 50-date run at the O2 Arena in London. The promoter sold about $85 million in tickets for Jackson's comeback stand. With numbers like that, it'd be easy to speculate that the pop star's sudden passing would put the company in dire financial straits. 

Yet today, The Times' Chris Lee and Harriet Ryan report that AEG may actually see a financial gain.

AEG offered ticket buyers the option to receive either a refund or a specially designed ticket with a three-dimensional image of Jackson. Thus far, somewhere between 40% and 50% have opted for the souvenir ticket,  according to AEG chief executive Randy Phillips. If the rate of ticket-holders choosing the memento over money holds, the company will break even, Phillips said. And then there's the footage from Jackson's rehearsals

An excerpt from Lee's and Ryan's story is below.  


The least-resolved but potentially most lucrative avenues for AEG in light of Jackson's death turn on the enormous interest in his final creative efforts. A camera crew filmed rehearsals for the London shows in high-definition video. The footage is now secured in a vault in AEG's Staples Center. Jackson's estate would get the "lion's share" of any profits from a documentary, but AEG would also get a cut, Phillips said.

Also under consideration is a televised tribute concert in London that would incorporate the staging and choreography for the comeback performances. Jackson invested himself in the most minute details of a show that at the time of his death was running more than two hours long, those close to the show have said. Ortega and Phillips want to see what they both have called "Michael's last great work" reach an audience, both live and on DVD. Phillips said "everyone you could think of" in the music industry had contacted AEG about performing in such a show, and Jackson's brothers may also have a role.

Lawyers for two executors named in a 2002 will implored a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Wednesday to empower them to negotiate with the promoter this weekend, saying that tens of millions of dollars were at stake.

The judge said he would hold off until a Monday hearing to make any decision about control of the performer's finances. Now, Jackson's mother is in charge only of securing his "tangible property."

Gary Bongiovanni, the editor of Fresno-based Pollstar magazine, said that with a run-of-the-mill concert cancellation, "you don't have anything but bills."

But in Jackson's case the bills have been accompanied by a commercial boom. On Thursday, three albums by Jackson topped 100,000 copies in sales, according to data released by Nielsen SoundScan.

Photo: One of the first tickets sold for the July 8 Michael Jackson concert in London. Credit: Akira Suemori / Associated Press