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Michael Jackson's "This Is It" On Pace to Break Movie Records

October 29, 2009 9:11 AM ET

Michael Jackson's This Is It began its two-week theatrical run by grossing $2.2 million from its special advanced screenings alone, putting the doc on pace for the highest-grossing opening week for a concert film ever. The current record holder is Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, which made $31 million its opening weekend in 2008, Variety reports. This Is It grossed an additional $2.2 million by midday Wednesday, and early foreign estimates predict the film is doing just as well overseas.

Look back at Jackson's life and career, in photos.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Sony bought the hundreds of hours of footage and distribution rights of This Is It for $60 million from AEG Live, the concert promoter staging Jackson's run of 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena. Unlike most films that are in production for the better part of a year, This Is It only had a turnaround of three months from when the footage was purchased to when it was released, but by all accounts so far, including Elizabeth Taylor's, This Is It is a success. The film's soundtrack is also poised to top the charts next week.

Rolling Stone reported from an advance screening in New York that "This Is It is proof that Jackson did still have it: the magical voice, the gravity-defying moves (most of them), the clear-headed artistic vision of one of the greatest artists of our time." Audiences were packed with fans paying tribute to Jackson — some came to the theater in bejeweled gloves, others did the "Thriller" dance in the theater lobby.

As a testament of Jackson's worldwide appeal, when the film premiered in Los Angeles at 6 p.m. PST Tuesday, This Is It was unveiled simultaneously around the world, so many sold-out theaters in Europe were actually premiering the film at 2 a.m. or later.

Related Stories:
Michael Jackson's Final Dreams Come to Life as "This Is It" Film Premieres
Michael Jackson Is "Genius" In "This Is It" Tweets Elizabeth Taylor
Report: Columbia Pictures Scores Jackson Rehearsal Footage

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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