Michael Jackson fans around the world flocked to screenings of This Is It on Wednesday, many dressed as their idol or in costumes from Jackson music videos, as they bid a final farewell to the King of Pop.
Jackson, who grew up as one of Motown legends The Jackson 5 and still has the best-selling album of all-time with his 1982 Thriller, died suddenly on June 25 in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest aged 50.
This Is It was culled from 80 hours of film of the singer’s rehearsals for 50 London concerts planned for July which the media dubbed a “comeback tour”. Jackson left the stage in 2005 after child molestation charges of which he was later acquitted.
After a star-studded opening in Los Angeles on Tuesday night and premieres in 16 other cities, the highly publicised film was to go on show in up to 99 countries by Wednesday, expanding to about 110 territories by the weekend.
“We have to celebrate his life, celebrate his legacy and that’s what this documentary is all about,” Teddy Riley, who produced Jackson’s Dangerous album, told reporters on the red carpet at Sydney’s premiere on Wednesday.
In central Taipei, a handful of Jackson impersonators, members of local fan club called MJ’s Army of Love, danced to entertain the hundreds of fans queuing to see the documentary which is initially on a limited two-week release.
“It’s such a regret, because his performances, songs and dances are totally perfect. It is a pity we cannot see his performance on stage but in a movie theatre instead,” said impersonator Li Yen-Ting, who was dressed up like his hero.
In Beijing, several fans said the movie was their last chance to see the star in action. “I have been waiting for this movie for many months and this is our last hope to see Michael’s final, excellent performance,” said a female fan who gave her name as Sha Sha as she sobbed uncontrollably.
Columbia Pictures bought the movie rights from concert promoter AEG Live for $60 million.