When I hear or read the title of the new Michael Jackson concert (rehearsal) film, This Is It, I immediately think of the Ryan Adams song of the same name which was a cheeky reaction to the title of the Strokes’ debut album, Is This It. If you really wanna get insider-baseball, you could say the title reminds you of Ted Hope’s production company, which is called This Is That. No matter what the title, or film, makes you think (Zombieland doesn’t count) it is clear that this release will be a major money-maker at the box office. But will it be a major money-maker at record retailers? It’s the only film opening this weekend on more than 100 screens, and there’s little doubt it can demolish both Paranormal Activity and Saw VI. Again, I’ll try to resist from making jokes about This Is It being a ghost story for Halloween weekend. Too late? Too soon?
So, while This Is It may be the easy winner of this weekend’s box office and become a huge earner in the end, what about the accompanying album? It seems the album might suffer a more modest fate. At a quick glance on the day it was released (Tuesday), the This Is It album has hardly sustained enough traffic to keep itself firmly in the Top 5 on iTunes and Amazon. Considering these online retailers sometimes over-index for new releases in music, this can only suggest the album is performing worse in brick-and-mortar stores. The album has a very good chance of being #1 on the weekly Billboard charts, but even Billboard has its doubts about how the album will sell over time:
Experts predict that it will top charts in several key countries, most notably the biggest U.S. market, but with album sales in seemingly terminal decline, even relatively modest returns can secure the coveted number one slot.
The fact that fans have bought nearly six million Jackson albums in that country alone since the singer died suddenly in June of a prescription drug overdose is likely to temper demand for what is essentially another greatest hits collection.
Meanwhile, there has never been a Michael Jackson “documentary” in theaters. That makes This Is It an event, for cinemas, but a minor distraction for record collectors.