Michael Jackson’s posthumous documentary “This Is It” premiered Oct. 27. Here are fans of the late King of Pop at an Emeryville theater opening night. The movie is playing until Thanksgiving, Nov. 26.
On Oct 27., fans across the globe celebrated the musical creativity and genius of the late King of Pop with the release of the highly anticipated film, “This Is It,” a posthumous documentary featuring singer Michael Jackson’s last days as he prepared for what would have been his final world tour.
The documentary, featuring footage shot between April 2009 until his death in June, follows Jackson during his final months as he rehearsed and mentored his production team in creating the theatrical and high-tech performances that would have composed his final tour.
The evening of the premiere, fans of all ages gathered at a popular Emeryville theatre, many donning sequined gloves and black fedora hats in emulation of the star’s signature style. Several hummed their favorite Jackson songs as they waited in line to see the film.
“I have been waiting ever since March when he announced his coming back,” said UC Berekeley student Hanieh Amoozegar, who attended the first showing of the film at the AMC Bay Street 16 Theatre. The theater estimated more than 600 people came to Bay Street for the premiere.
“This is my concert,” said Amoozegar, who wore a sequined black fedora and Jackson T-shirt. She bought the shirt when she attended the pop singer’s nationally publicized funeral on July 7 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Amoozegar described the funeral as “probably one of the most honorable moments of my life.”
Families also came out to the premiere, reminiscing on the impact Jackson’s music has had on past and present audiences.
“I remember I was little when I was watching ‘Moonwalker,’ and now they can watch his music (videos) on the Internet,” siad Tashina Rainey, referring to Jackson’s 1988 collection of short films that debuted his infamous classic, “Smooth Criminal.” Rainey, who has been a fan since she was 5 years old, attended the movie with her mother, older sister, and her 6-year-old brother. All three siblings like to spend their time watching Jackson’s music videos on YouTube.
Rainey brought her three children as well, including 7-year-old Amber. “My favorite Michael Jackson songs are ‘You Are My Life,’ ‘Bad,’ ‘In the Closet,’ and ‘Man in the Mirror,'” said Amber, who could not seem to decide which of Jackson’s hits were her favorite. “My first favorite was ‘You Rock My World,'” she said. She wore her Jackson T-shirt and brought her favorite Michael Jackson magazines and CDs.
The night also brought several talented moonwalking fans, including Kelvin Ramas, also known as “Young Kel” on his YouTube channel.
“I have been dancing to Michael Jackson my whole life,” said Ramas, who wore the iconic sequined glove and red “Beat It” jacket. He performed Jackson’s “Billie Jean” routine, complete with heel-sliding moonwalk and kicking dance poses.
“I cried like a baby when I found out he died,” Ramas said, recalling the moment he found about Jackson’s unexpected death June 25. He remembered receiving the news through a text message and mourning with millions of Michael Jackson fans around the world.
“His death made me feel like it was family, like I lost a family member,” said Diana Evans-Harris of Oakland, who has been a fan since her childhood in the 1970’s. “I hope to see his joy in coming back, and having that final embrace.”
Harris saw Jackson perform at the Oakland Coliseum with the Jackson Five. The group was Jackson’s first musical group and included his four brothers Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine as vocalists. Evans-Harris also attended the Jackson Five comeback performance at the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington D.C.
Some Mills students and alumnae also came out to see the premiere, including Katrina Harris, a former student body president and graduate of the class of 1989.
“I have been a fan forever, since I was born,” said Harris. Her favorite song by Jackson was “Blues Away” from the Jackson Five’s self-titled 1976 album. She also bought tickets to attend one of the “This Is It” concerts that were cancelled following Jackson’s death. Instead she attended his funeral.
“This Is It” takes a look at the complicated production of Jackson’s final concert through the eyes of dancers, band members, backup singers and the film’s director, Kenny Ortega. The concert was to include a 3-D theatrical performance of Jackson’s most famous number one hit, “Thriller,” featuring protruding ghosts, zombies, spiders and frightening graveyard scenes to bring audience an edge-of-the-seat experience. The movie provides fans with Jackson’s favorite hits, including “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,'” to the emotional finale, “Man in the Mirror.”
“It was really good to see his passion for music and his passion for people,” said Yemi Ajirotutu, a Mills graduate student. “It is sad that he is gone, but his legacy will live on even stronger.”
A lot of fans left the film with a sense of closure and in awe of the King of Pop’s mastery over music and dance.
“I don’t know if any other artist today can pull that off,” said Sofiya Allen, who wore a matching outfit with her brother Chase, consisting of a black fedora and silver glove ensemble.
“I liked how you could see his personality, his professionalism in that everything was so organized, and his ears for music,” said Allen. “it’s a lost talent.”
“I can only imagine how out of this world a live performance would have been,” said a friend of Allen, Nicoli Jones. “It would have been to the moon!”
Other fans, including Amoozegar, came out of the movie wishing for more of Jackson’s hits.
“He didn’t play my favorite song ‘Will You Be There,’” she said. “But it was beautiful. I loved it.”
The premiere sold out theatres around the world, grossing $21.3 million nationally and over $101 million worldwide.