Eric Idle has revealed how much money rock bands and record labels contributed to financing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which came out in 1975. According to a tweet, Led Zeppelin contributed £31,500, Pink Floyd Music ponied up £21,000, and Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson put in £6,300 of his own money. Adjusting for inflation, that means that Led Zeppelin’s 1974 investment was equal to almost £336,000 in today’s money, Pink Floyd’s was about £224,000, and Anderson’s was worth approximately £67,000.
Other financiers on the film include film producer Michael White (who gave £78,750), Island Records (£21,000), Charisma Records (£5,250), lyricist Tim Rice’s cricket team Heartaches (£5,250), and Chrysalis Records (£6,300). The total budget was £175,350.
In further tweets, Idle said that none of the financiers visited the set since they were shooting in Scotland and joked that even with that much money, “We couldn’t afford horses.” Despite that, he said Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page hung out with them at the film’s premiere. Although he didn’t say specifically how much the film ended up making, he retweeted someone who found a figure on the Internet: $175 million. And in a surprising postscript he said: “[All of the financiers and Pythons get] a cut of [the Broadway adaptation] Spamaot.”
Another artist who helped finance a Python film was George Harrison, who helped them make Life of Brian. When EMI pulled its financial support for the film, which came out in 1979, Idle phoned Harrison for help, and the Beatle said, “Done.” It was the first film to come out from Harrison’s HandMade Films company, according to Python member Terry Gilliam’s memoir.
In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Idle discussed how Harrison had helped the troupe out in that dire time. “Nobody wanted Brian except George [Harrison], who put up his money for it,” he said. “We wouldn’t have made it but for him mortgaging his house.”
Idle also recalled how Harrison lifted his spirits about being a member of Python: “Once I was moaning a little bit on Brian, saying, ‘It was hard to get onscreen with Michael Palin and John Cleese.’ He said, ‘Well, imagine what it’s like trying to get studio time with Lennon and McCartney.’ I said, ‘All right. Absolutely. Got it. OK. Check. I’ll shut up now.’ Then it occurred to me that yes, in fact, we were slightly the outsiders, playing similar roles in our groups.”