* Cirque and Jackson estate will share projects
* Arena touring show expected in late fall 2011 (Recasts with details on previous Jackson-related projects)
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, April 20 (Reuters) - Cirque du Soleil will develop touring shows based on the music of Michael Jackson in the third major deal by the “Thriller” singer’s estate since his death last June, representatives said on Tuesday.
The latest deal also calls for a Jackson-themed nightclub in Las Vegas and a permanent Jackson-Cirque du Soleil show that will make its debut in the city in late 2012.
The Jackson estate and Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, which already has produced shows based on the music of Elvis Presley and The Beatles, will each own half of each project arising from the partnership. They will split development and production costs, representatives for the estate said.
The first project from the partnership will be an arena touring show expected to start in late fall 2011.
“Having attended Cirque du Soleil performances with Michael, I know he was a huge fan,” John Branca, a co-executor of the estate, said in a statement.
“We are excited to be partners with Cirque du Soleil to give Michael’s fans a truly unique way to hear, see and feel Michael’s music,” Branca said.
The MGM Mirage (MGM.N), which owns 10 hotels in Las Vegas, will partner with Cirque du Soleil for the shows in the casino mecca but it has not announced a permanent venue for those performances.
In March, Sony Music, a unit of Sony Corp (6758.T), announced a $250 million deal with Jackson’s estate, which will result in up to 10 albums using the singer’s previously unreleased music.
Last fall, Sony Pictures released “This Is It” based on footage of Jackson rehearsing for a comeback concert series in London. The movie made $261 million around the world, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.
Cirque du Soleil currently has a show in Las Vegas based on Presley, called “Viva Elvis,” and another high-wire acrobatics show titled “Love” using Beatles music.
The singer’s mother, Katherine, said in a statement, “Our family is thrilled that Cirque du Soleil will pay tribute to my son in such an important way.”
Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles on June 25 of an overdose of powerful medications. His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, has been charged in California with involuntary manslaughter and is awaiting trial. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bill Trott)