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Michael Jackson: How the Star Rakes in Cash After Death

Timothy A. Clary, AFP / Getty Images

It’s been two years since the untimely death of Michael Jackson, but that hasn’t stopped fans from doing their best to hold on to the memory of the King of Pop. Since his death, the pop icon has seen a bittersweet career resurgence that has spilled over into film, video games and merchandise. As such, Jackson, once deeply in debt in life, is poised to become the world’s top-earning dead celebrity with his estate raking in $275 million last year.

Jackson suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009, just weeks before he was set to embark on his highly publicized ‘This Is It’ tour at London’s O2 Arena. In the days following his passing, fans flocked to pivotal Jackson locations from his boyhood home in Gary, Ind., to his famed Neverland Ranch, all in an attempt to pay their final respects. Ironically, this newfound interest reinvigorated his career, which had fallen on rough times during the last decade of his life.

In honor of his legendary life and career, the BoomBox provides some insight into Michael Jackson Inc., with six ways the Jackson family is keeping the name and legacy alive of their revered son, brother, uncle, father and friend.

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MOVIES
Jackson broke records when footage from his rehearsals for the ‘This Is It’ tour was released as a full-length documentary concert film. Directed by Kenny Ortega, the film was released on Oct. 28, 2009. Although it was not supported by all members of the Jackson family — some of which vowed not to see the film — and boycotted by fans, to date, ‘This Is It’ has grossed over $260 million worldwide. That makes it the highest grossing documentary film of all time.

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MUSIC
In the weeks following his death, fans went out in droves to pick up copies of his music, sending his greatest hits album, ‘Number Ones,’ to the top of the Billboard album charts. Among the songs to climb up the charts fast after his death was Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror,’ a reflective song challenging listeners to look inward for the answers to their problems. In light of his surging popularity, Jackson’s estate signed a $250 million seven-year 10-album record deal with Sony Music Entertainment.

Jackson’s first posthumous effort, ‘Michael,’ hit stores Dec. 14, 2010. Upon its release, the LP became the No. 1 selling global album. The project was comprised of previously unreleased music that was revamped and featured the likes of Akon, Will.i.am and 50 Cent. In accordance with the album release came the ‘Behind the Mask’ video, the result of an interactive online casting call. in which fans uploaded videos taking their best shot at one of Jackson’s dance moves, crowd reaction or a song lyric. The best of the submissions appeared in the visuals, which premiered in early June via the pop icon’s Facebook page.

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VIDEO GAMES
Jackson’s dance skills were just as famous as his superstar status, so when fans were given the opportunity to mimic his moves, they jumped at the opportunity. In November of 2010, Ubisoft released ‘Michael Jackson: The Experience,’ an interactive video game for Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles. For Wii players, there are three levels of difficulty: The Classic, which allows for several players to follow; the Duo, featuring Jackson’s duets, in which players can either dance as the superstar himself or as another player; and lastly the Crew, featuring Jackson and two back-up dancers. Powered by favorable reviews, the game has sold over 3 million copies since its release.

cirquedusoleil.com

THEATER
Later this year, Cirque du Soleil will open ‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,’ in Las Vegas. Written and directed by Jamie King, the visual, dance and music-driven show “turns his signature moves upside down,” using acrobatics to interpret Jackson’s legacy. Aimed at both lifelong fans and those experiencing Jackson’s influence on entertainment for the first time, the show works to capture the singer’s love for music, dance, fairy tale and magic. As of 2011, ‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’ is scheduled to land in 47 cities and counting.

Ryan Miller, Getty Images

MEMORABILIA
Among Jackson’s most prized possessions were some of his personal belongings, and for the right price, members of the public can get their hands on a piece of pop culture history. Since his death, auctions have sold many pieces of his iconic memorabilia, including the famed glittery glove worn during his very first moonwalk performance at ‘Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever’ in 1983. The glove fetched $330,000, but is not the top selling Jackson item to date. On June 25 and 26, Jackson’s autographed ‘Thriller’ jacket will go up for sale at a Beverly Hills auction and is expected to bring in as much as $400,000. The auction will also include a wig worn by the 50-year-old during his ‘This Is It’ press conference a few months before his death.

Abriel Bouys, AFP / Getty Images

LANDMARKS
The last few years have proven to be profitable for the Jackson estate so consumers can expect many more projects, products and music honoring the King of Pop to come. According to his posthumous record deal, there will be nine more Jackson albums released, and some fans have rallied for Neverland Ranch to be turned into a theme park, similar to that of Graceland, the Memphis, Tenn. estate of Elvis Presley, which reins as one of the most visited homes in America, with an estimated 600,000 Presley fans visiting the property each year.

While Neverland is not officially a theme park, on June 20, the ranch was opened to visitors to tour the property via helicopter, with prices ranging between $150-$500. Lasting roughly 30 minutes, the tours will run through June 25, commemorating the two-year anniversary of Jackson’s death.


Watch Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’
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