Judge approves Michael Jackson film
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Audiences will get to see the King of Pop perform one more time after a judge approved a major deal to produce a movie fashioned from footage of his final rehearsals.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved a deal on Friday between Michael Jackson's estate, concert promoter AEG Live and Columbia Pictures on Friday. He announced the ruling Monday during a hearing where a separate merchandising deal is being considered.
A proposed contract states the movie will feature footage of Jackson's final rehearsals for a planned series of London comeback concerts. The film could also include videos prepared for display during the "This is It" shows.
AEG Live has said it has more than 100 hours of footage of preparations and rehearsals for the shows. Under the terms of the proposed contract, the film will have to be screened for Jackson's estate and cannot include any footage that puts the superstar in a bad light.
A final cut of the film is due by late October. A release date has not been issued.
Columbia Pictures paid $60 million for rights to the film, and the contract states Jackson's estate is slated to receive 90 percent of its profits.
Jackson died on June 25, days before he was set to embark to England for his comeback shows.
Beckloff had until Monday to approve the film and allowed Jackson's mother, Katherine, to review the contracts and raise any objections. Katherine Jackson did not object to the film, but her attorneys have raised questions about other agreements concerning AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado. The estate wants to enter into agreements with the two companies for merchandising.
A proposed agreement calls for Bravado to receive worldwide rights to Jackson merchandise, including items such as trading cards, apparel and cell phone themes.
Burt Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said he has raised several issues with the proposed agreements.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney representing the estate's current administrators, said some of those suggestions are "not acceptable." He said the contracts were aggresively negotiated and there was little room to strike a better deal.
"We feel that we're being second-guessed," Weitzman said. "I'm not sure why."
Katherine Jackson apparently wants AEG Live to give its footage of her son's concert preparations to the estate, according to discussions held in open court on Monday.
"Under no circumstances would AEG agree to such a thing," said Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for the concert promoter.