If you feel like your music tastes mean you were born in the wrong generation, don't worry, a new technology could let you see your favorite performers like they're still with us today.
Superstar Michael Jackson died an untimely death due to a drug overdose in 2009. After that, he became more valuable as a dead celebrity than when he was alive. Billboard reports that after Jackson’s death in 2009, the IRS gave Jackson’s estate a value of more than $434 million. The Jackson family disputed his net worth and put the value at about two thousand dollars due to the overwhelming debts Jackson left behind.
It turns out, both the Jackson family and the IRS were very wrong. The IRS significantly undervalued Michael Jackson’s estate. TIME reports that during 2016, the Jackson estate earned $825 million. This made Jackson the highest paid celebrity (either dead or alive) for that year.
This enormous amount came partially from a CBS special called Michael Jackson’s Halloween and earnings from the posthumous releases of the albums Michael (released in 2010) and Xscape (released in 2014). Add to those royalties and revenues, the sale of Jackson’s ownership rights in his Sony/ATV catalog.
In 2017, Michael Jackson estate earned $75 million, making him the top-earning dead celebrity for the past five years in a row. This money came from album sales. Imagine the amount that Jackson’s estate could earn if Jackson went on a posthumous worldwide concert tour. Yet, new augmented-reality projection technology now makes this possible.
The innovative technology allows the audience to watch a virtual version of celebrities performing even if they have been dead for many years. This technology is not the same as the fuzzy-green holographic projections that have been seen in past movies. This new technology creates very realistic images that are nearly indistinguishable from reality.
Not everyone appreciates the ability of technology to allow celebrities to live on and perform forever. In fact, Prince, while he was still alive, specifically declared that he did not want his image used in this way after his death.
Vanity Fair reported on the huge controversy that arose when Justin Timberlake used a projected image of Prince as his backdrop during a performance. Timberlake did this during the half-time show at the Super Bowl performed in early February 2018. This projected image of Prince was just a tiny taste of what is now possible.
With the newest technology, a dead celebrity can appear on stage in such a way as to seem that the person is really physically there. The projected image can be viewed from any angle. The image moves just like it would if it was a real person.
USA Today said that a CGI-hologram projection of Roy Orbison goes on tour to perform for 28 shows starting on Oct. 1, 2018, in Oakland, California. Orbison, most famous for his song Pretty Woman, has been dead for over 30 years.
Some think this technology is great. Others hate it. The estates of dead celebrities want to control the celebrity images. However, celebrity estates have little control of the newly-created CGI-hologram images of celebrities, especially those who died many years ago.
This means audiences may soon see Marilyn Monroe go on tour to sing with Frank Sinatra and dance with Fred Astaire. That actually sounds pretty interesting and a little bit creepy at the same time.