Michael Jackson's "This Is It" concert never made it to the stage in London, but it will be making its way to the silver screen in a little less than two months. On Aug. 10, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved the sale of the concert's rehearsal footage by Jackson's estate and promoter AEG Live to Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony will release the finished This Is It film worldwide on Oct. 30.
The film is a chance to "to give audiences the gift of his final performances," said Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment, in a statement released after the court's decision. "I know this film will serve as further proof that Michael Jackson is one of the greatest entertainers who ever graced a stage."
The majority of the footage was shot in June as Jackson prepared for the series of 50 concerts planned for London before his sudden death. Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, told TIME last month that concert producers had spent $15 million filming 130 hours of footage of Jackson's rehearsals, including three songs in 3D. "This is Michael's last masterpiece," Phillips said at the time. "It's the whole putting together of the show as well [EM] the dancers, the auditions. Michael and [choreographer] Kenny Ortega worked day and night on this." AEG Live released 94 seconds of this rehearsal footage in the days following Jackson's death on June 25.
According to sources familiar with the concert-footage negotiations, Sony Pictures purchased the rights for $60 million. Some 90 percent of the sale proceeds will go to the Jackson estate and 10 percent to AEG Live.
With the deal complete, Sony can cement plans for the project, including who will helm it. The studio refused to comment, but a source close to the project says talks are focused around High School Musical 2 director and This Is It choreographer Ortega. "There is one director in mind and talks will be underway now that the court has cleared the deal," the source said.
Phillips told Time in June that AEG had hoped to use the rehearsal footage for a special London concert on Aug. 29, which would have been Jackson's 51st birthday. However, talks of this concert have faded, and meanwhile a new major Jackson tribute concert has been announced, scheduled to take place in early September. On Aug. 10, the promoters World Awards Media said members of Jackson's family and other "high-profile" entertainers will honor the King of Pop from a custom-built crown-shaped stage at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Palace, according to the Associated Press. One brother who has confirmed he is performing at what is being billed as Jackson's "farewell concert": Jermaine Jackson. Tickets for the event go on sale Aug. 20.