A few weeks ago initial reports suggested "Michael Jackson's This Is It" could be a late October world-beater at the box office. Online ticket sales were strong and AEG Live, who were producing Jackson's planned tour and held the rights to the footage that became the movie, were leaking bits to the press that the film was set to gross as much as $250 million worldwide. Those estimates may have been a tad premature.
Many of Jackson's fans showed up last night to pay tribute to their fallen idol at late night and midnight screenings, but it only resulted in $2.2 million in ticket sales. In comparison, summer blockbusters "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" found $16 million and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" set the record for midnight screenings with $22.2 million. Obviously, there is a hug gap there between the summer releases and an October opener like "This Is It," but considering the hype it's actually a tad disappointing.
"This Is It" could do anywhere from $10-15 million today, but the question will be how it plays through the Halloween weekend. That may make the $60 million plus weekend some were predicting somewhat of a reach.
Critically, the picture had logged a 63 on Metacritic and an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. What audiences will think is something else entirely. Having paid $60 million for the rights to the footage, Sony Pictures will be counting on a huge worldwide gross to make a nice profit on the project.
Look for continuing coverage of "This Is It's" box office grosses through the weekend on HitFix.