Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 1939 - Wizard of Oz Hits Theaters Nationally

Depicting the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum the film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins

Due to it's cutting edge special effects, release in technicolor, and the fact that this was MGMs most expensive production to date, Oz has become one of the most recognizable and popular movies ove the years.  However upon its release and despite positive reviews and being nominated for two Academy Awards (best Picture - Lost to GWTW, and Best original song, Won with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), overall Oz initially was a box office failure. 


Initially Oz was going to be filmed as a fantasy film, but MGM felt audiences wouldn't relate and made the amazing, colorful, song and dance filled portion a dream. Casting problems, filming delays, and set problems plagued the MGM set, and post production wasn't much easier, having to compose the backing score and special effects in a limited amount of time.

A fact I didnt know, in the scene where the film goes from the black and white farmhouse into the wonderful world of Oz, it wasn't shot in black and white. It was too expensive and tedious to "stencil print" (hand tinting each scene) so they painted the interior sepia tone, and had a fill in for Dorothy's back wear a sepia toned dress, so when the camera switched to Oz, Garland could step out in her blue dress against the sepia background.

The film grossed approximately $3 million (equal to $47,437,500 today) against production/distribution costs of $2.8 million (equal to $44,275,000 today) in its initial release. It did not show what MGM considered a large profit until a 1949 re-release earned an additional $1.5 million (equal to $13,819,327.73 today).

It wouldnt let me embed, but heres the first 7 minutes of Dark Side of the Moon synced to Oz :)

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