Michael Jackson fan Jason Rangel can remember as a child getting his mom and dad to let him stay up to watch The Gloved One bring home Grammy Awards for the blockbuster album "Thriller."
On Tuesday night, the 36-year-old Modestan was at Brenden Theatres to see the movie, "Michael Jackson: This Is It," a tribute to the fallen King of Pop.
Rangel was, shall we say, thrilled. He'd even see it again.
"It was really great to see how down to earth he was ... to see how hands on he was with the music, choreography, lighting and everything," he said. "It was neat to see how he was so calm, cool and collected throughout the whole thing. It just blew me away to see him that way."
The movie, which is in theaters for only two weeks, will have opened in 99 countries by today. Closer to home, it's also playing at the Regal Cinemas Modesto Stadium 10 on McHenry Avenue, as well as theaters in Riverbank, Oakdale, Turlock and Manteca.
The film, culled from more than 100 hours of rehearsal footage, shows an enthusiastic Jackson meticulously crafting his moves and performing some of his most beloved hits. No critics had seen it before Tuesday, but Sony — which paid $60 million for the film rights — showed a 12-minute clip to entertainment journalists last week.
The movie contained his older music and new music, a 3D version of Thriller and a different spin on "Billie Jean." It also featured interviews with his longtime band members and fellow dancers.
Shannon Munoz, 36, of Modesto, saw the movie and said, "It would have been an amazing concert."
There with her daughter, Munoz said she liked everything about the movie, from the music to the dancing.
"It was great to see him being himself and how happy he is on stage and how important it was for him to make his fans happy," she said.
Saul Trujillo, general manager at Brenden Theaters at Modesto, opened his two largest theaters, which hold 425 moviegoers each, to handle the large demand.
He said the run on advance tickets had been high since they went on sale a month ago. While Trujillo said Tuesday afternoon he expected sellout crowds for the premiere later that evening, Rangel said the show he attended filled about three-quarters of the theater.
“As far as response, I’d compare it to any of the good summer blockbuster movies,” Trujillo said.
The audience contained a mix of the young and middle-aged.
"It was a good mixture of everybody," said Royhazel Edmonds, a 17-year Davis High School student. "That's the thing about Michael Jackson. He brings different people together in one place."
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Edmonds began listening to Jackson's music a year ago when he performed a lip-sync of the song "Thriller" in his drama class.
"I thought it was the best movie I had ever seen," Edmonds said. "I was mesmerized by every move he made."
Munoz said theatergoers were laughing, dancing and signing, and were especially responsive during one of Jackson's moon walk scenes.
It's what the crowd didn't do that left an imprint on Rangel.
"It's the first time I've sat through a movie without hearing somebody's cell phone go off or somebody making a comment about the movie," he said. "Everyone was there to watch Michael Jackson."