Michael Jackson Estate Teams Up With Cirque du Soleil

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Michael Jackson is getting the Cirque du Soleil treatment.

Confirming rumors that have been circulating in the entertainment industry for months, the Jackson estate announced on Tuesday that it had struck an extensive deal with Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based acrobatic-theater company, for a series of touring and permanent shows centered on Mr. Michael Jackson’s music.

The first production, scheduled to open in Las Vegas in the fall of 2011, will be an arena show modeled after a MIchael Jackson live concert. After a brief run there, the show will tour the world, and in late 2012 another permanent Michael Jackson show is scheduled to open in Las Vegas, according to a joint statement from the estate and Cirque du Soleil. Like “Love,” Cirque’s Beatles tribute, which has been running in Las Vegas since 2006, the permanent production will be accompanied by a Jackson-theme nightclub, and there will probably be a soundtrack and merchandise galore.

The deal creates a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and the estate, with each owning half of the productions and splitting the costs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Daniel Lamarre, Cirque du Soleil’s president and chief executive, said in an interview on Tuesday that the shows would be rich in new technology — possibly including 3-D and holographic imagery — and that they would be the most expensive the company had ever produced. “Love” reportedly cost $175 million to mount, and “Kà,” which opened in 2005 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was said to cost $220 million.

“We have never felt the pressure as we have now,” Mr. Lamarre said. “Michael Jackson made so many breakthroughs in the history of entertainment that we have no choice — we have to deliver new technology, new material and an artistic content that will have no parallel.”


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