Why Sony decided to leave 'This is It' in theaters through Thanksgiving | EW.com

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Why Sony decided to leave 'This is It' in theaters through Thanksgiving

Sony Pictures’ decision to extend the run of This Is It through Thanksgiving weekend was not about fooling audiences, Sony’s vice-chairman Jeff Blake tells EW. Rather, the part-concert film, part-documentary was initially receiving a two-week run for two reasons: one, it was being rolled out in similar fashion to the most recent concert films (Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and Jonas Bros: The 3D Concert Experience were also set up initially for two-week engagements) and two, Blake was trying to get theaters to agree to a shorter window between theatrical and DVD (a negotiation that ultimately didn’t result in a shorter window.) “It was a process where suddenly we had a real movie with an A Cinemascore, great exit polls, good grosses and a normal DVD window,” says Blake. “There was really no reason to pull it off the screen after two weeks.”

Blake says the decision to prolong This Is It’s theatrical run came Wednesday night when exit polls revealed it wasn’t just Michael Jackson fanatics who were showing up to the theaters. “We got adults. We got people who don’t normally call themselves Michael Jackson fans,” says Blake. “Suddenly this movie was much more than a typical concert film. It was a real movie. Real movies don’t get pulled after two weeks.”

The studio was also predicting a surge in ticket sales on Halloween. But that didn’t happen. The film’s receipts fell only 10% that day and then rose a surprising 18% on Sunday. The $34.5 million it earned over the first five days domestically - coupled with the $68.5 million earned internationally - was the clincher that the movie should be extended. In a cruel twist of irony, Jackson’s London-based concert would have been seen by several hundred thousand people. Now that its been broadcast to theaters in over 108 territories worldwide, already 11 to 12 million people have seen the pop star’s final performance. “People saw Michael Jackson at his absolute best musically and got a real feel for the man,” says Blake. “While I don’t think we’ll ever be confused for doing social work, it did have a good feeling that so many people got to see it.”