Over the weekend, four studios have been bidding for Michael Jackson's final footage. Sony "has all but closed the deal," which is valued at more than $50 million, according to The Wrap. (That would make it the highest price ever paid for source material for a documentary.) Fox and Universal were also reportedly involved in the "pitched bidding war." The high-definition footage includes a full concert rehearsal "taped on the night before he died," production meetings, and auditions. The deal would also include several videos intended to be shown during breaks in the concert; at least two were shot in 3-D.
Previously, it was claimed that a final decision on the footage would need to wait until Jackson's estate is settled. Concert promoter AEG Live, self-described by company president and CEO Randy Phillips as the King of Pop's "partner in death," is also auctioning off TV rights. In a poll, Cinematical readers were divided as to how the footage should be used, with the leading choices being DVD/Blu-ray and "Free TV Special." More people voted for not seeing the footage at all than wanted to see a film.
The highest grossing concert film of all time is Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds, which made $65 million last year. (Adjusted for inflation, Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip comes out on top at $85 million.) The Jackson film would be something different, obviously: we're talking about a global phenomenon that cuts across generations. Still, whatever studio wins the bidding war is no doubt counting on huge international numbers to make the documentary a profitable venture.