'Michael Jackson's This Is it'Just when you thought you were safe from moon-walking at your local multiplex, rumblings are descending about another Michael Jackson concert film. This time the source material stretches back to 1981, and the culprit responsible party is a man named Ron Newt. He tells TMZ that Jackson gave him the footage, and that he's put together a 64-minute feature film which has drawn offers reaching into "seven figures."

From a historical perspective, the tour material could be fascinating. The Triumph Tour was a huge deal at the time; Michael was between Off the Wall and Thriller, and the tour reunited the Jackson brothers for a series of sold-out concerts. A live album from the tour, The Jacksons Live!, was released in 1981. Last year's rehearsal footage documentary, Michael Jackson's This Is It, made more than $260 million worldwide, but that was in the wake of Jackson's death. It came out in time to satisfy hunger by his fans for the concert tour that never was. Would archival footage from 30 years ago be able to tap into that same interest?
The rights to the footage could prove problematic. Who shot the footage? Even if Newt has all legal rights to the footage, the music rights, as I understand it, are a separate issue entirely, and would have to be negotiated with the music rights holders.

Even more interesting may be the man behind the footage. Newt claimed in 2005 that the National Enquirer offered him $200,000 to "say that something happened between his kids and Jackson," according to a report by Fox News. The article described Newt as a San Francisco "character" whose past "includes pimping and jail time." Newt turned the offer down because nothing happened between his children and Jackson.

Newt wrote a book about his experiences in the music business and the criminal underworld, Bigger Than Big, which he self-published in 1998. That same year, he admitted he exaggerated some of his exploits "to make the story great." Is he telling the truth about how he obtained the Jackson footage? More to the point, would you pay money to see more archival footage on the big screen?
categories Cinematical