anyway, tried to make the same effect in AE and failed.
used "lens blur" effect, but it looked weak compared to the movie effect.
I mean, look at that. you can see the lights so strong and big, its beautiful.
I dont have the complete answer, but i do remember this being mentioned in Mark Christiansens book (Studio Techniques). You really need your comp to be in 32 bit mode to retain the brightness when adding the lens blur. Also you may want to try using the Exposure filter as that is also 32bit aware, and can help with accurate light effects.
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd