Psycho

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    [Total: 25 Average: 2.4]
  • Directed By: Gus Van Sant
  • Written By: Joseph Stefano
  • Release Date: December 4, 1998
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen

Box Office Info:
Budget: $25 millionFinanced by: Universal
Domestic Box Office: $21,456,130Overseas Box Office: $15,685,000


Gus Van Sant’s non-creative piece of duplicate filmmaking was financed by Universal.  The budget for Psycho was $25 million.   This pointless exercise was announced in March 1998, rushed into production by July and cobbled together for a December 4 release date.

When Psycho was announced by Universal, the response from the media and most of the adult movie going public was overwhelmingly negative — so Universal began to target the under 25 crowd.  Psycho was the first major release spearheaded by Universal’s new marketing president Marc Shmuger, who tried his damndest to turn this into an event.  The studio began a marketing blitz in the early summer to overcome the bad buzz from older auds and pushed ads toward teens with heavy promotion on MTV.  There was high awareness and while the movie’s success was still considered a wild card, there was potential for Psycho to break out.

Universal had not landed a hit since The Lost World in May 1997 and there was much riding on the success of the studio’s four end of the year heavy hitters — Meet Joe Black, Babe: Pig In The City, Psycho and Patch Adams.  The critically reviled Patch Adams was the only hit of the bunch. 

Psycho was the only wide release on the usually sleepy post-Thanksgiving holiday frame and it disappointed with $10,031,850 — placing #2 for the weekend led by the holdover A Bug’s Life.  75% of the audience was under the age of 25 and those that showed up gave the movie a poor C- cinemascore.  It sank 62.4% to $3,770,835 in its second frame and flopped out of release with only $21,456,130.

Interest was minimal overseas, where it scared up just $15.6M.  Universal’s parent corp Seagram’s announced a $65 million loss for the fiscal quarter, in which Psycho contributed to the shortfall that was primarily caused from the far more expensive Meet Joe Black and Babe: Pig In The City.

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  1. Universal would have seen back $18.075 million, from the 55/45 domestic and 40/60 overseas spilt with theaters. By that calculation, it probably lost around $30 million including P&A costs.

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