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Michael Jackson eyes $50 million concert payday

 U.S. pop star Michael Jackson gestures during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London March 5, 2009. Jackson said he will hold a series of final concerts in Britain later in the year. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - Reuters
U.S. pop star Michael Jackson gestures during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London March 5, 2009. Jackson said he will hold a series of final concerts in Britain later in the year. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
— image credit: Reuters

By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Michael Jackson could take home more than $50 million from his much-anticipated 50-show stand at London's O2 Arena, his first shows in 12 years, according to Billboard calculations.

The concert series begins July 8, and the so-called "King of Pop" has been busy rehearsing at a soundstage in Burbank, Calif., for the past four weeks.

Tickets average about $115 and capacity will be about 15,000 per show, taking the gross for the run to about $90 million. Premium and VIP packages and secondary market sales will boost the gross to more than $100 million. Merchandise sales could bring in another $15 million.

The deal is set up where Jackson shares in net ticket revenue which, according to Billboard calculations, would make Jackson's take on ticket sales alone north of $50 million, though producer/promoter AEG Live would not confirm this.

The company has footed the bill for a $20 million production, and the show layout is coming together.

"Originally we tried to keep the show down to 90 minutes, but Michael has so many must-do songs in his repertoire that the shows now will be two-plus hours," AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips tells Billboard.

Phillips would not reveal details of the production, but one could expect a multi-media experience that would be "the most cutting edge ever employed on a tour. We're using technology that's never been used before in live entertainment."

Phillips says AEG Live is well-insured for the event, and 50-year-old Jackson passed a physical "with flying colors."

Jackson is now working out specific songs, though a top-to-bottom dress rehearsal won't be ready for a month.

"Michael's in incredible physical shape, he's got tremendous stamina, he's been working out aerobically preparing for this, and he is totally engaged," Phillips says. "He sounds like Michael Jackson. He is laser-focused on making this the greatest entertainment event that fans have ever seen."

The Jackson camp is not worried about a possible lawsuit seeking to derail the shows. A music promoter said on Monday that Jackson had previously contracted to perform in July 2010 along with his brothers from the Jackson Five and sister Janet Jackson. The terms prevent him from giving a concert before then.

Phillips said the claims were "completely meritless and have not impacted rehearsals in any way. We have a bona fide contract, the deal's in place, he's performing, we're performing."

(Editing by Dean Goodman)

(Please visit our entertainment blog via www.reuters.com or on http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/ )

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