Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez – together with Jermaine, Tito, and Marlon Jackson – were among the thousands who attended Wednesday’s much-anticipated world premiere of This is it at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The concert movie/documentary, which chronicles Michael Jackson’s final days as he prepared for a worldwide tour, opens today.
Silver rhinestone gloves were distributed to fans, many of whom arrived already showing off Jackson T-shirts and tattoos. Even Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony, which is distributing the film, came wearing a Jackson-like fedora and rhinestone-adorned slacks. Also among the dozens of celebrity attendees were Paula Abdul, Neil Patrick Harris, Martin Lawrence, Adam Lambert, David Cook, and Rosanna Arquette.
Before the two-hour film began, Director Kenny Ortega (pictured with Jermaine) tried to explain what the late pop singer was hoping to accomplish with the tour and why they chose the massive Nokia Theatre to premiere the movie. “Tonight we come together in the name of one of the greatest entertainers known in our times and a man whose heart pumped to make this world a better place: Michael Jackson,” Ortega said. “This Is It is, and always has been from the time we started, for the fans. The Nokia became our first residence. It is where we held auditions and where Michael hand-selected many of the creative artists who joined him for this. It is with great pride that we are premiering it here tonight.”
Reactions to the film varied from the occasional fan yelling, “I Love You, Michael!” to people laughing and giving standing ovations, and a few even shedding some tears. The movie will hit 15,000 theaters this weekend. “Michael and I were giving everything to creating this show and perfecting it, and we all brought that same spirit and dedication to creating this mosaic,” Ortega told EW.com. “It is wall-to-wall music. It is all the real Michael. It is unguarded and real and passionate. I am very proud of the outcome of the film.”
Ortega added that the director’s cut of the movie will likely be released early next year, but even that is not expected to contain some of the more macabre moments from the day of Jackson’s death – like when Ortega and the dance team learned of the singer’s sudden passing. “Those moments were private, for one thing,” explained Ortega. “And this is meant to be a celebration of Michael’s genius and was meant to add to his legacy. He was a master of his craft. It is his sacred and final theatrical work, and we wanted it to be a celebration. Those scenes would bring it down, and that is not the point. So it is all Michael and he is up and enthusiastic and working hard and strong, and that’s what we wanted to show.”
Jermaine Jackson called the movie “the most exquisite production anyone has ever seen,” adding that it demonstrates how his brother was attempting to create the best concert ever. “It is a wonderful idea for a film,” he told EW.com. “It shows that with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything. You can make your dreams come true. That’s what Michael was all about and this is probably the most personal look fans will ever get of his process, and I think he would be happy if the movie inspired one person to write a song or follow their dream, and I think it will probably inspire a lot more. He loved his fans and I think he’d be thrilled to give them something extra. All the work on the show did not go to waste this way, either.” — Reporting by Carrie Bell
Photo Credit: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Landov