Jackson reigns at box office, in advance of film

Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:55pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's fans are ready to rock with him one last time, as next month's "This Is It" movie about the late pop star breaks records for advance ticket sales, the studio behind the film said on Monday.

Based on rehearsal footage of Jackson taken in the weeks before the "Thriller" singer's death, the film does not open until October 28. But early sales began on Sunday, resulting in hundreds of sold-out shows in North America alone.

Cities with particularly strong sales include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and New York, said Sony Pictures Entertainment, the division of Sony Co that produced the film from "High School Musical" director Kenny Ortega.

Outside the United States, more than $1 million in tickets were sold in Japan on the first day they were available, which was a record, Sony Pictures said.

In London, "This Is It" fans bought more than 30,000 tickets on the first day, which eclipsed advance interest in the "Harry Potter" and "The Lord of the Rings" films, which were popular in Britain.

Record ticket sales were also reported in Holland, Sweden, Belgium and New Zealand, Sony Pictures said.

While online sales were high, fans also lined sidewalks waiting for tickets in Paris, Bangkok and Munich, Sony Pictures said.

U.S. authorities are investigating what lead to Jackson's death from an overdose of prescription drugs on June 25, focusing on doctors who treated him.

The rehearsal footage for "This Is It" was produced as Jackson prepared for a series of 50 sold-out comeback shows in London that were supposed to begin on July 13. Sony paid $60 million for the footage to make the movie.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and John O'Callaghan)

<p>A woman walks past a memorial banner that fans have signed at the L.A. Live complex for the opportunity to purchase tickets for a special showing of the "Michael Jackson's This Is It" movie in Los Angeles, California, September 25, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>