Aug. 20, 2009 -- A movie collecting footage of Michael Jackson as he rehearsed for his planned comeback concerts will have a two-week limited engagement in theaters starting Oct. 28 -- barely four months after the singer's death.
"This film is Michael's gift to his fans," read a statement by Kenny Ortega, who led the rehearsals and is directing the film, "This Is It." "As we began assembling the footage for the motion picture we realized we captured something extraordinary, unique and very special. It's a very private, exclusive look into a creative genius's world."
Jackson was scheduled to perform 50 sold-out concerts at London's O2 Arena, promoted by AEG Live, from July 13, 2009, to March 6, 2010. The "This Is It" concerts would have amounted to his first major concert series since his HIStory tour ended in 1997.
Footage of a rehearsal session shot just days before Jackson's June 25 death already has been released. The film will be drawn from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage taken from April to June of this year, including those final rehearsals, according to a press release from Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment.
The studio said the release date was moved up from its initial slot by two days to Oct. 28, and tickets will go on sale in most cities beginning Sept. 27.
Sony paid a reported $60 million for rights to the film.
The 50-year-old Jackson rehearsed tirelessly in his final days -- at times overexerting himself in rehearsals, insiders told ABC News.
"I think he had a sense of timing that this was the time to do it," AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips said in an interview with ABC News' Chris Connelly. "He was always negotiating and renegotiating. And he was a character. He was our character."
'The Greatest Concert That No One Got a Chance to See'
Those who watched Jackson rehearse were convinced that he was healthy enough to tour. Before the tour's formal announcement, Phillips said, Jackson was given a five-hour medical examination by Dr. David Slavik, in which Jackson was given a "clean bill of health."
Ortega said in his statement that the film will capture Jackson's energy.
"'This Is It' may go down as the greatest concert that no one got a chance to see," he said. "But with this film, we get a rare portrait of Michael as he prepares for his final curtain call and what I believe was going to be his master work."
Phillips told Connelly last month that contractually, AEG wanted Jackson to perform on stage for 80 minutes, but Jackson's sheer passion and desire for perfection pushed the concert well over that time marker.
"We wanted to conserve his strength. ... There were a lot of shows, even though they were spread out over nine months," Phillips said. "He couldn't do it. His obligation to his fans, his reverence for his fans -- and a lot of artists feel this way -- was so strong that the show ... started to creep well over two hours. And that's the reality."
While his tour entourage deemed him physically and emotionally capable of performing, some felt Jackson couldn't hold himself back in rehearsals -- potentially overexerting himself.
"As we all know, he is very competitive -- and we would throw at him and he couldn't help himself," said musical director Michael Bearden. "He would sing full out more than we wanted him to."
While the team insisted that they saw no sign that Jackson was using drugs, Phillips said worries mounted that Jackson did not have the energy to endure. His weight showed signs of wear and tear.
"Kenny [Ortega] used to cut his chicken breast for him and feed him," Phillips said. "I actually, in the last week, brought in someone whose sole purpose it was to remind him to eat. That was my biggest concern, was his weight."
Jackson's Final Rehearsal: 'Thrilling'
Jackson told Ortega he had issues with insomnia.
"He would say to me, 'I didn't sleep much last night,'" Ortega said shortly after Jackson's death. "If he got inspired, then he would work on a song, work on a lyric. He would go downstairs and work in his room and work on a dance step or call me on the phone at 3 o'clock."
Still, those who saw the final dress rehearsals were shocked that the man they saw dancing on stage would die less than 48 hours later. Phillips said last month that releasing the initial footage of Jackson rehearsing was an attempt to set the record straight about the icon in his final days.
"It was thrilling," he said. "It [the rehearsal video] shows his commitment and his capability -- and one of the great entertainers."
ABC News' Chris Connelly and Lauren Sher contributed to this report.