Given how much has been done in the first decade following Michael’s tragic and untimely passing, it should not be a surprise that there is a natural slowing and spreading out of major releases as the Estate focuses more selectively on projects to enhance Michael’s legacy long term. While we appreciate that the fans want more releases, it is important to keep in mind all that has been created and released in this relatively short time. This includes a number of licensing deals such as the limited-edition collaborations with clothing companies like Supreme and Off White, the launch of the Michael Jackson slot machines, as well as all of the larger scale releases including:
2009: The documentary film This Is It, which remains the highest grossing music documentary/concert film in history. Also released was a compilation album with the same title that includes the songs featured in the film and a few bonus tracks including Michael’s unreleased track, “This Is It”. The album has sold in excess of five million copies worldwide making it the largest posthumous release in history.
2010: The Ubisoft game, Michael Jackson: The Experience. While there were many successful versions of the Ubisoft Just Dance videogame, this was the first (and only) time they released a dance video game dedicated entirely to a single artist! It was released on every major platform and went on to become one of the biggest selling video games on the Wii platform.
There were also two releases under the Estate’s agreement with Sony Music – Michael, which was the first release of previously unfinished tracks that were worked on by various producers who had worked with Michael. Notwithstanding the controversy about three of the tracks on that album, it went to #1 around the world and sold more than five million copies. Visions, the complete collection of all of Michael’s short films, was also released.
2011: There have been two completely unique live stage shows created by the Estate in partnership with Cirque du Soleil. The first of these shows, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, travelled to arenas around the world for nearly 3 years. Along the way it grossed approximately $400 million at the box office making it one of the biggest tours of all time! And it won the Billboard Magazine Creative Content Award.
There was also another release under the partnership with Sony Music – an album, Immortal, featuring remixes of Michael’s recordings created by Kevin Antunes, the musical director for both Cirque du Soleil shows, based on the songs used in the IMMORTAL show.
2012: There was a special Bad album re-release to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bad album which included remastered versions of the tracks from the original album on one disc together with a second disc that included rarities as well as 6 previously unreleased demos by Michael from the recording sessions for the Bad album. It is worth noting that none of these demos would have been released as ‘new’ recordings, however they worked in the context of ‘bonus’ material for this anniversary release. Also included in the larger box set was a Live at Wembley CD – the first ever Michael Jackson live CD from any of Michael’s solo tours to be released.
Also, as part of the Bad 25th anniversary celebration, the Wembley concert from the Bad Tour was released on DVD. Michael’s performance at this concert is certainly the best live concert performance by any artist ever. As explained at the time, had we been able to locate any original source films/tapes for this performance we would have used those to create a fully edited concert. Unfortunately, that was not the case and we released the only thing we found – Michael’s own viewing copy of the concert. We continue to search for the original elements in the hopes that one day we will be able to share this concert in the best possible format. Just like the fans, we would be ecstatic if this happens.
There was the first of two long-form documentaries produced by the Estate with director Spike Lee at the helm, BAD25, which was premiered at the Venice Film Festival and broadcast on ABC in the United States and broadcast on television throughout the rest of the world. The longer “director’s cut” of the documentary was also released on DVD/Blu-Ray.
There was also a deal with Pepsi to promote the 25th anniversary of Bad and the Bad World Tour, for which Pepsi was the sponsor. As part of the deal with Pepsi, special limited-edition cans were released around the world.
2013: The second live show created by the Estate and Cirque du Soleil, Michael Jackson ONE, which is a more intimate show than the touring show, premiered at its permanent home at Mandalay Bay Resort & Hotel in Las Vegas. While we are aware that it is not possible for everyone to travel to Las Vegas to see this show, we are proud to say it continues to be one of the most successful Las Vegas shows. In fact, it is one of the best shows in the world and is a fitting tribute to Michael Jackson. While it was forced to shutter along with all other live events in early 2020 as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, it will reopen when it is safe and will continue to entertain audiences for years to come.
2014: The second album featuring previously unreleased recordings, Xscape, was executive produced with L.A. Reid who brought in current producers including Timbaland, and the album also included the first posthumously released duet by Michael. Justin Timberlake joined Michael on a version of “Love Never Felt So Good”. This album went to #1 all over the world and another song from this album, “Slave To The Rhythm”, was featured in the hologram performance on the Billboard Music Awards, which gave the show its biggest ratings in decades.
2016: Based on the success of BAD25, the Estate and Spike Lee partnered on a second documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to OFF THE WALL, which looked back at Michael’s early career path and culminates with an in-depth look at Off The Wall. This critically acclaimed documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on Showtime in the United States and by other broadcasters around the world. It was also released on Blu-Ray/DVD.
2017: To celebrate the connection between Michael Jackson and Halloween, there was the premiere of the original animated television special, Michael Jackson’s Halloween, which had the best ratings of the night outside of the World Series game. There were also special events in a half dozen select cities around the world that included the screening of the full length version of Ghosts, Michael’s epic short film with Stan Winston, and a special screening of Thriller 3D, which actually had its premiere at a return trip to the Venice Film Festival.. And there was a release of a Halloween themed compilation album/playlist, Scream.
There was also another deal with Pepsi to include Michael in their global campaign, which again included the release of special limited-edition Pepsi cans featuring Michael Jackson imagery.
2018: The critically acclaimed Michael Jackson: On The Wall exhibition premiered at London’s National Portrait Gallery on June 28. Following its record setting run in London, the exhibition travelled to three other major European locations – Paris, France, Bonn, Germany and Espoo, Finland. This innovative and unique experience was appreciated and enjoyed by fans and other members of the general public in each city.
In July, a sample from a previously unreleased Michael Jackson recording, “It Don’t Matter To Me”, was licensed in a new similarly titled Drake recording, “Don’t Matter To Me” to further our intention of introducing Michael to new generations of fans through collaborations with current artists. This duet would become Michael’s 44th top ten Billboard chart hit.
And in August, on what would have been Michael’s 60th birthday, we hosted the Diamond Celebration in Las Vegas. In addition to all of the normal birthday festivities hosted by the Estate at Michael Jackson ONE in Las Vegas every year, there was an extra special party attended by invited guests and fans featuring a DJ set by Mark Ronson and a performance by Usher.
Thriller 3D was premiered in IMAX in a limited 1-week engagement in theaters around the world with the Universal/Amblin release, “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” to rave reviews. We hope to find opportunities to show Thriller 3D again in the future.
2019/2020: The Estate had a number of plans, including those for the 10th anniversary of the release of This Is It, that were all impacted by the release of Leaving Neverland. Regardless of the fact that it is not truthful and will be exposed for its lies, in the short term, its release made other media companies reluctant, at least temporarily, to license any new Michael Jackson programming. This has already started to pass. And, of course, in 2020 we are all dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a delay for the opening of MJ the Musical on Broadway, as well as impacting other plans we had for this year.
All of this is a way to remind everyone how much the Estate actually has done in the last eleven years, and also to remind everyone that as the result of forces and events out of our control, we had to put a pause on big activities for the last eighteen months. There is a theory – one that Michael subscribed to – that one shouldn’t do too much, give the world a rest, and then surprise them with special projects. That remains the Estate’s intention. Michael continues to be the number one streaming catalog artist in the world and with soar to new heights when the Broadway show opens and we are able to complete and release the other projects in process.