As the world waits for the release of the most anticipated film this year, Liverpool’s cinemas are preparing themselves for two weeks of madness as Michael Jackson’s last performance is screened.
The ‘This is it’ movie, which documents Jackson's last months alive, is set for release next week, coinciding with a string of Jackson-themed events in the city, including a star-studded charity auction and the release of a new single by a local band.
Most of the Jackson hype surrounds the film, which follows Jacko as he prepares for his 50 tour dates in London’s O2 Arena, the commitment which many fans blame for his ill health and death.
The singer never intended to release the footage of his preparation and rehearsals for the shows. However, after his shocking death, AEG Live and Sony Pictures came to a deal with Jackson’s estate for the recordings, which will only be shown in the cinema for two weeks
The self-styled King of Pop died in June after suffering from a cardiac arrest just a few weeks before starting his final performances. The film will be premiered across 25 cities throughout the world. The first will be held in Los Angles on October 27th, but others are set to take place in Sydney, Tokyo and Paris. The London premiere will be held at midnight on the 27th, and advance screenings will begin at 4am throughout the UK.
Ticket sales have already smashed records across the world, with 35,000 selling in just 24 hours through Odeon cinemas, beating advance orders for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films. Devoted fans in Los Angeles waited in line for two and a half days to be able to buy advance screening tickets.
Sharon Rusk, General Manager of Cineworld, Edge Lane in Liverpool, said: “We had customers coming in a week before tickets went on sale to buy them; we haven’t had to do any promoting because the film is so hyped up. Wednesday will be horrendously busy; it’s the release date and [Orange] two for the price of one, so we are expecting shows from early afternoon until the night to be sold out. I know that the first showing at 4am in the Odeon sold out in 24 hours.”
Liverpool also recently hosted a charity memorabilia auction, which saw 'I'm a Celebrity' star David Gest give fans the opportunity to bid for some exclusive Jackson items. The event was held at the Adelphi Hotel and attracted many people of all ages. There were never-seen-before items up for auction, such as a photograph of Jackson wearing a veil, which was signed by Michael Jackson in 1998. This item had a reserve price of £6,000, proving just how highly valued Jackson's signature can be.
There were special performances from some Motown legends, including the likes of Candi Staton, Peabo Bryson, Percy Sledge, Dennis Edwards of The Temptations and many more. Gest, a close friend of the Jackson family, claimed that the event “meant a real lot to him”.
Before he died, Jackson also gave a local band permission to re-release his hit single ‘Heal The World’ to raise money for charity. The group, known as ‘Bulief’, have recorded their own version of the song in aid of the James Bulger Red Balloon Centre Appeal. The single by the Kirkby-based band will be available to purchase from November 2nd.
By Chloe Garfoot & Jennifer Simms
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YouTube: This Is It trailer; Pic: Jackson's final rehearsals in LA (© AP Photo/ Kevin Mazur, AEG/Getty Images)