Variety (1960) - Passed Up Wages, Alfred Hitchcock's Before-Taxes 'Psycho' Take of $5m
- article: Passed Up Wages, Alfred Hitchcock's Before-Taxes 'Psycho' Take of $5m
- author(s): Gene Arneel
- journal: Variety (21/Sep/1960)
- issue: volume 220, issue 4, page 1
- journal ISSN: 0042-2738
- publisher: Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc
- keywords: Psycho (1960)
Passed Up Wages, Alfred Hitchcock's Before-Taxes 'Psycho' Take of $5-Mil.
By GENE ARNEEL
By taking a cue from the auto-biographers who profess to have grabbed big bundles in the stock exchange, real estate, etc., Alfred Hitchcock could author a book on how he struck gold with a motion picture. It was disclosed in New York this week that the producer-director will walk away with a profit of at least $5,000,000 from his "Psycho" entry. This is gross income, i.e., before the Internal Revenue 1040 statement, but nonetheless a tidy amount of coin for an enterprise that took about nine months of his time and effort.
Hitchcock's grand slam is unprecedented, according to executives in the trade's economic know.
Others, such as the late Cecil B. DeMille, have chalked up more than $5,000,000 for a single film production. But their investments have been more, thus the return in terms of percentage has been less.
Hitchcock's deal with Paramount, as financier and distributor of "Psycho," gives him roughly 60% of the negative ownership. The financial arrangement is a complicated one — to the extent that even the insiders prefer not to discuss it unless flanked by a couple of lawyers.
But the basic consideration is that Hitchcock deferred any kind of straight salary in favor of the 60% ownership. Film, a shocker starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, was brought in at a cost of slightly over $1,000,000. The stake would have been higher had it not been for the deferment. But, still, it's regarded as an inexpensive "A" in the present lush-budget era.
On the basis of returns so far, "Psycho" appears a cinch to hit $15,000,000 in worldwide rentals, and the $5,000,000 payoff to Hitchcock is keyed to this figure. Factors are the costs of prints and advertising and a distribution fee to Par of about 30% of the gross.
If the current boxoffice pace is maintained in subsequent dates, the total gross could go as high as $20,000,000, obviously meaning more loot for 'Hitch."
'Lucky' or 'Smart'?
"Psycho" is this year's wonder picture. It's marquee names are good — but not outstanding. The vicepresident of a rival film company says flatly it's a "freak." Hitchcock partisans term it expert picture-making, and daring to boot.
The candid observer acknowledges a vast amount of thrill values (Dracula never had it so macabre) and a highly effective sell campaign focusing on Hitchcock (not any of the players) and the ultimatum about seeing the picture from the beginning, or not at all.
This is the "chemistry" behind the success. And the fact that "Psycho" is so successful represents one of the happiest surprise! Par has had in years. The company's top officials knew they had a money-maker right from the start, so they say. But such a klondike in acetate was never anticipated.
First half of the current (calendar) year was somewhat sluggish for Par. Financial statement for the full year conversely ought to be substantial, thanks to "Psycho.