The Untold Truth Of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Video

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Michael Jackson had a huge 1983. He sold millions of copies of his album Thriller and starred in one of the most popular, famous, and well-produced music videos of all time. This is the untold truth of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

When Michael Jackson's Thriller started to drop down the charts in 1983, Jackson grew unnerved and pressed executives on how to restore the LP to its #1 perch. Epic Records head of promotions Frank DiLeo suggested a third music video, for the album's title track, which wasn't even slated to be a single, telling Jackson at the time:

"It's simple — all you've got to do is dance, sing, and make it scary."

However, Epic wouldn't pay for it — the label spent $250,000 on the video for "Billie Jean" but made Jackson pay the $150,000 budget for "Beat It" himself. The proposed cost of the "Thriller" video? Slightly less than $1 million.

After a screaming, profanity-laden phone call with Jackson and director John Landis, CBS Records head Walter Yetnikoff offered up $100,000, leaving the creative team to find the rest of the money elsewhere. Landis' production partner George Folsey and Jackson's lawyer John Branca hatched a plan: raise money by pre-selling the rights to a behind-the-scenes documentary shot during "Thriller" production. MTV, which, to that point, had never paid for content, contributed $250,000, and Showtime paid $300,000. According to The Guardian, Jackson made up a lot of the difference out of his own pocket.

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Creative budgeting | 0:00
John Landis joins | 1:24
On and off screen chemistry | 2:47
Religious woes | 3:56
Weighty metaphors | 4:53
Blockbuster album | 5:46
Home video jumpstart | 6:40
Winning and losing | 8:04
Missing payments | 9:16
Landis sues | 10:16
Thriller lives | 11:10

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