Bad 25 Documentary.. TV, Cinema or Blu-ray?

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The 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s record-breaking Bad album is drawing closer.

As previously announced by the Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music, big celebrations are planned including the release of music, unseen concert footage and a documentary directed by legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.

The music and concert footage comes as part of a commemorative Bad 25 boxed set (which includes 3 CDs, 1 DVD, two full colour books and other goodies) to be released on September 18.

The documentary will cover the era that was “Bad”,  detailing Jackson’s work on the music, the short films, and the world tour that accompanied the album. Lee was privileged to have interviewed many of the engineers, directors, producers, choreographers and more that worked hand-in-hand with Jackson to bring his extraordinary vision to life.

In recent weeks fans have speculated about exactly how and when the documentary will be presented to the world. Today, some light was shed on the matter.

According to Lee, who answered questions via Twitter, the documentary will be hitting “both” the big screen and store shelves this fall.

Additionally, after speaking with someone close to negotiations I have learned that Sony are pursuing a television screening of the 90+ minute film.

“They pitched to television last week”, she revealed. “A prime time broadcast on a major network would be the ideal way to promote the anniversary while allowing Michael’s genius into the living rooms of millions of households around the world.”

Albeit the preferred option, I’m told a TV broadcast is not guaranteed.

“What we don’t want is for a network to obtain the rights to the documentary, and decide to broadcast it at 11pm on a weeknight, for example”, she explained. “This is Michael Jackson we’re talking about. It needs to be done right, on a major network, in a popular time slot.”

Although Lee commented that the documentary would also appear in cinemas, an equally likely candidate for a brief theatrical run is the never-before seen 1988 Bad Tour concert from Wembley Stadium – the same show that is being included as the DVD in the Bad 25 boxed set.

Sony Music have considered implementing the “one night only” strategy in nominated movie theatres around the world as a way of promoting Bad’s 25th anniversary (and it’s related releases). One-off screenings would present fans the opportunity to gather in droves to exclusively witness Jackson in action, before the concert is made available to the general public on DVD.

A similar plan was used in 2008 when the concert “Dangerous Tour; Live In Bucharest” was shown in select cinemas around the world to support Jackson’s 50th birthday and subsequent release of the Sony-designed “King of Pop” album.

The Bucharest show was by no means a cinema exclusive, having been officially released four years earlier on DVD as part of The Ultimate Collection (2004), and re-issued as a stand-alone DVD in 2006. Yet, tickets still sold out in advance as fans jumped at the opportunity to see MJ perform on the big screen! If the Bad Tour show from Wembley was to be shown in cinemas it would almost certainly sell session after session out – especially in the UK.

A decision on whether or not the Wembley concert is shown in cinemas could come down to the post-restoration quality of the footage itself. Cinema chains who’ve considered showing the concert are said to be cautious about presenting footage that has been restored from VHS on today’s state-of-the-art cinemas screens. If it doesn’t meet their standards it may not happen.

Either way – be it on television, in cinemas, on DVD, Blu-ray or CD – the coming months promise to be an exciting time for Michael Jackson fans with a plethora of highly anticipated, unreleased material headed their way, and fast!

Shammone!

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