In a June blog," I described Mile High gazillionaire Phil Anschutz as "among the sharpest businessmen to ever call Colorado home" -- and he's proven it again by the way he's turned a possible financial bath into what looks like an impressive windfall. AEG Live, one of Anschutz's many companies, was slated to promote the Michael Jackson tour that never was -- and because the firm had been unable to secure insurance for all the dates, the gigs' cancellation seemed likely to cost Anschutz in the tens of millions.
So how has he managed to turn all that red ink black? A little film called This Is It.
The documentary, built from rehearsal footage of the aborted tour, is scheduled to open on Friday, and theaters all over the world have already sold out early screenings. That's good news for Anschutz, as outlined in a Bloomberg story:
Jackson's estate gets 90 percent of profit from the movie after Sony is paid for its role, including marketing and distribution fees, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement. Concert promoter AEG Live, owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, gets the remaining 10 percent.
The promoter recouped about $36 million it invested in Jackson's canceled tour from the $60 million Sony paid for rehearsal footage, according to one of the people.
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Are these numbers accurate? An interview request has been left with AEG Live's Michael Roth; when and if he replies, I'll update this item. In the meantime, though, it appears that what looked to be a rare misstep by Anschutz has landed him in a very good place. As usual.