In the wake of reactions to the documentary, many of them negative, could a bad look impact the recorded-music deal between the estate and Sony Music Entertainment, the longtime home of Jackson’s recorded-music and publishing catalogs? According to the Wall Street Journal, that agreement is worth $250 million for the rights to distribute the singer’s recordings over seven years.” (A source close to the situation confirmed the figure to Variety.)
The paper does not provide further details and reps for the estate and Sony Music did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, but it seems likely the article is referring to a deal between the two companies announced that was announced in December of 2017 by Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer and John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of Jackson’s estate.
According to the announcement, the deal, which was effective January 1, 2018, sees Sony Music extending the term of their administration of Jackson’s recorded-music catalog “in a long-term recording agreement.” It also stated that Sony will have the opportunity to partner on additional projects that the Estate may produce during the term of the agreement. No further details were announced at the time, although the deal was likely struck in advance of a U.S. copyright law amendment enacted in 1978 in which a creator can elect to terminate a deal 35 years after a work’s “publication” — in this case, the release of a recording — and the copyright can go to the creator.
Other projects repackaging Jackson’s creative work, which include posthumous albums and a 2017 animated special called “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” have met with mixed results, although a Cirque de Soleil touring show (“Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour”) and an ongoing show in Las Vegas (“Michael Jackson ONE”) have been quite successful; the latter show has been seen by more than 3.5 million people, according to Jackson’s website.
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