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Sony Backs Off ‘This Is It’ DVD Holiday Release

30 Oct, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has reportedly stepped back from releasing Michael Jackson’s final concert performance, This Is It, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc for the holiday shopping season after protests from movie theater owners, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The film, which features a complete rehearsal performance by the late pop icon for a planned worldwide concert tour, has generated a modest $20.1 million in global box office, including $7.4 million in the U.S. since its Oct. 28 release, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Sony, which spent $60 million acquiring the rights and producing the film, reportedly believed Jackson’s unique appeal among fans and the general public would have made This Is It an ideal gift — thereby justifying an earlier packaged-media release than the standard three months following a theatrical debut.

“We felt we made a pretty good case as to why this movie was different,” Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Son Pictures Entertainment, told The Los Angeles Times.

John Fithian, president of the National Assoc. of Theatre Owners and longtime critic of previous studio efforts to shorten the theatrical window, said his members had made their feelings clear.

“Any time we see the window go under three months, we alert our members and raise concerns with the studios,” Fithian said.

Regardless, Sony could use a hit. The studio reported a second quarter (ended Sept. 30) $71 million operating loss coupled with a 20% revenue decline to $1.5 billion. Sony cited a weak theatrical release schedule and fewer packaged media releases for the decline.

By comparison, the studio posted operating income of $120 million during the previous year period based in part on box office and home entertainment hit, Hancock.

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