‘This Is It’ grosses $20.1 million

Michael Jackson concert film in tune with auds

“This Is It” grossed $20.1 million in its first day at the worldwide box office — a solid, but not glowing, start for Michael Jackson’s final act.

The Sony release grossed $7.4 million from 3,481 theaters at the domestic B.O., including $2.2 million from Tuesday night shows.

Overseas, where the King of Pop’s popularity has endured, “This Is It” pulled in $12.7 million in 97 territories. Opening-day highlights included $1.9 million in the U.K., $1.4 million in France, $1.2 million in Japan and $1.1 million in Germany.

Film, slotted to play only two weeks, opened in 10 more overseas markets on Thursday, making for a worldwide print count of 15,000 heading into the weekend.

Sony said the successful opening of the pic reaffirms the global appeal of Jackson.

But many in Hollywood expected opening-day numbers to be higher at the domestic B.O. since the film is a fan-driven title.

Last year, “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” grossed $8.6 million on its opening day at the domestic B.O., although that pic bowed on a Friday.

Still, most box observers believe “This Is It” should take the weekend crown domestically unless fans in search of Halloween scares help Paramount holdover “Paranormal Activity” continue to do runaway business.

Last weekend, “Paranormal” grossed $21.1 million from 1,945 runs. This weekend, it expands to a total theater count of 2,400. Pic continued to see plenty of traffic midweek and sported a domestic cume of $66.6 million through Wednesday.

“Paranormal” makes its foreign debut this weekend in the U.K., where Icon is distributing.

“This Is It” should have no trouble winning the weekend crown at the foreign B.O.

Stateside, “This Is It” is the only new wide release of the weekend except for the holiday re-release of Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” in 1,083 theaters.

With Halloween on a Saturday this year, distribs are steering clear of the weekend. That’s one reason why Sony decided to open “This Is It” midweek.

Other scare fare at the box office includes Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures’ “Saw VI,” entering its sophomore sesh with a cume of $16.6 million through Wednesday.In one of the biggest box office surprises of the year, “Paranormal” easily beat “Saw VI” last weekend.

The film for “This Is It” to beat in terms of records is “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour.” That pic opened to $31.1 million domestically on its way to grossing $65.3 million in its limited run.

“This Is It” was rated “A” by CinemaScore and has also been embraced by critics.

Sony paid concert promoter AEG Entertainment $60 million for worldwide distribution rights to the movie. Film features Jackson rehearsing for the London concert series he was prepping for at the time of his death in June.

Meanwhile, the specialty box office sees a handful of new entries domestically.

Fox Searchlight kicks off a platform release of comedy “Gentlemen Broncos,” from “Napoleon Dynamite” helmer Jared Hess, in two theaters.

Apparition opens “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” in 68 runs. Pic is a sequel to Troy Duffy’s cult fave “Boondock Saints.”

Also, DMZ Releasing’s war drama “21 and a Wakeup,” starring Faye Dunaway, opens in 12 runs in Chicago, and Magnolia’s horror entry “The House of the Devil” bows in three runs in Los Angeles, New York and Austin, Texas.

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