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Michael Jackson may have died in 2009, but his once-suffering estate is now thriving on profits from music sales, licensing agreements, and upcoming projects.
Legal documents filed in February and obtained by Reuters claim that while Jackson was over $400 million in debt at the time of his death, his estate has made more than $310 million in the years since. The estate’s administrators have used that money to pay off Jackson’s debt, as well as to care for the estate’s beneficiaries: Jackson’s children, his mother, and a variety of charities.
Last year, Billboard broke down the Jackson estate’s then-$1 billion in revenue. At that time, sales of Jackson’s music – including albums, digital track downloads, ringtone sales, and other royalties – totaled $429 million, with his film/television properties clocking in at $392 million. Licensing, touring, recording contracts, and music publishing added another $196 million.
Now, a year later, these figures would expand to include sales of the Ubisoft-produced video game Michael Jackson: The Experience (which has moved over 3 million copies since its release in April) and ongoing revenue from Jackson’s stake in the Sony/ATV music catalog, which includes consistently popular titles by everyone from Elvis to Lady Gaga. Also worthy of consideration: Music sales. In May, a single off Jackson’s posthumously released album Michael topped the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart.
Songs, albums, and games will keep selling, and it is likely that the estate will continue to see profits from upcoming projects. In March 2010, the estate struck a deal with Sony Music Entertainment to release 10 albums of the singer’s music through 2017, guaranteeing them anywhere between $200 million and $250 million.
A partnership with Cirque du Soleil will also produce two theatrical shows in the coming months. One, “The Immortal World Tour”, is set to open in Montreal in October before embarking on a 30-city North American tour through 2012; the other, a non-touring production, will open at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in 2013. The production budget for “The Immortal World Tour” is an estimated $57 million. Tour writer/director Jamie King previously helmed a number of other high-profile tours for artists like Madonna and Britney Spears, all of which earned six-figure grosses.
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