Michael Jackson’s Thriller Marks Its 35th Anniversary On Sunday, December 2
WHEN THE SHORT FILM PREMIERED ON MTV IT REVOLUTIONIZED VIDEO AND SECURED MICHAEL’S PLACE IN HISTORY AS THE PIONEER OF A NEW ART FORM
Sunday, December 2 is the 35th anniversary of the premier of Michael Jackson’s Thriller on MTV.
No other music short film has generated such excitement and has such a hold on our attention, such that more than three and a half decades later, we all share it as a collective memory. One historian wrote that “Thriller is the Citizen Kane of short films.” Michael Jackson’s Thriller remains the only music video to be inducted into the elite National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. After breaking down the barriers of MTV with “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”, Michael further revolutionized music video production with this epic 14-minute film shot on 35mm film, legitimizing it as a entirely new art form, and securing Michael’s place in cultural history as a pioneer of a new art form.
The landmark film went on to win three MTV Awards, two AMA’s and a Grammy. A perpetual favorite, “Thriller” (song) re-entered the Hot 100 on November 10, 2018 at #31 which is the highest it has been since April 7, 1984.
The Thriller short film was written by John Landis and Michael Jackson and directed by Landis, and was filmed in and around Los Angeles in October 1983. Michael’s friends Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson and Jackie Kennedy Onassis all visited the set.
The song “Thriller” is from the album Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time, and is performed by Michael Jackson, with music and words by Rod Temperton. “Thriller” was the 7th and final single from the album, and the short film sent album sales into orbit.
At a private first showing in November ’83, wrote Vanity Fair, “The A-list turned out … at the 500-seat historic Crest Theatre: Diana Ross, Warren Beatty, Prince, Eddie Murphy. Fourteen minutes after it began, the crowd was on its feet, applauding and crying, “Encore! Encore!” Eddie Murphy shouted, “Show the goddamn thing again!” And they did.”
Michael Jackson’s THRILLER 3D premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2016 and became the first music video released in IMAX 3D in September this year.
- 722 M combined YouTube views
- First music video shot on film
- First MTV world premiere of a music video
- First music video to hit the big screen
- First (and only) music video to be inducted on the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress
- First music video to inspire a viral dance craze
- First music video to be released in IMAX 3D
- “Thriller” (song) re-entered the Hot 100 on November 10, 2018 at #31 which is the highest it has been since April 7, 1984
- Inspired the biggest flash mob (recognized by Guinness World Records) – 13,597 fans performed the Thriller choreography in Mexico City in August 2009
- “Thriller was the Citizen Kane of short films,” says music historian Joe Vogel.