Prince’s Finances Were in ‘Horrible’ Shape Before ‘Batman’
To Prince fans, Albert Magnoli is best remembered as the director of Purple Rain. But he also briefly served as his manager, navigating him through the period of his career around the Batman soundtrack and film. In a new interview, Magnoli revealed that the singer was hemorrhaging money until his direction helped Prince right the ship.
“When he did Purple Rain and the tour, he had spent a tremendous amount of cash," he told Variety, "and he was now at a place where his management, to their credit, were attempting to leverage future earnings in order to pay for past and present debt. Of course, that’s never a good idea, but Prince was not wanting to accept responsibility for letting these things get out of hand. And then he came to me and asked, ‘What if you took over?’”
Magnoli said he would do it, provided he could be totally honest with Prince about all decisions and that he would still be allowed to pursue other projects. Prince agreed, and Magnoli got a look at the books.
“I immediately did a forensic kind of financial search as to what was really going on, and it was more horrible than anybody thought," he continued. "So [the plan] was about trying to bring revenue into the operation without overextending him to the point where no one would be interested in getting involved in anything he wanted to do."
A documentary to be directed by Magnoli was scrapped, and then Batman entered the picture. "I went to Prince and said, ‘This will help us bring revenue into the system without having to expose you to another album.’ ... It’s not essentially a Prince album, it’s a ‘Batman’ album, and so it’s a win-win,’” he recalled.
Magnoli's instincts turned out to be correct, saying, “The revenue from Batman and severe cost cutting — we went from a $10 million per year nut to $2 million — allowed him to continue on without concern and without changing his lifestyle.”
But their time together would not last much longer. Magnoli came up with another movie idea called The Dawn, in which Prince would play two roles, but warned his client that he wouldn't be able to immediately start on it due to other commitments. When Prince was unwilling to wait that long, they parted ways, but Magnoli still looks back on those days fondly.
“The period of time that Prince and I worked together was excellent,” he concluded. “From the very first time we met, we just had a knack of being able to work together very powerfully and speak our minds. The unfortunate thing is that The Dawn would have been a great film — visually and musically it would have set a new bar like Purple Rain did. Unfortunately, Prince just could not get out of his own way when it came to short-term thinking as opposed to long-term. But it was an excellent relationship, truly.”
Prince Albums Ranked