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A few words about...™ Cleopatra (1963) - U.S. Release -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#121 of 181 OFFLINE   Paul Rossen

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Posted June 28 2013 - 11:42 AM

 

Regardless of whether it eventually turned a profit, the movie certainly cultivated a reputation for being a massive failure. For years and years afterwards, whenever anyone would bring up the topic of biggest movie flops, Cleopatra was the immediate go-to example. At least until Heaven's Gate came along.

 

In Hollywood, perception is more important than reality, and everyone's perception was that Cleopatra was a bomb.

I've never seen it mentioned or reported that CLEOPATRA was a massive failure except by certain critics in reviewing the film.  Certainly FOX expected/wanted it to be a huge hit but that wasn't meant to be.  To compare it to Heaven's Gate box office failure is downright wrong.


Edited by Paul Rossen, June 28 2013 - 11:43 AM.

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#122 of 181 OFFLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted June 28 2013 - 12:07 PM

Twentieth Century-Fox was hemorrhaging money during its production, which gave Cleopatra its bad reputation over a year or more before it was finally released.  From 1960 to mid-1963, readers devoured news about Fox's money pit that was Cleopatra.  That's where its notoriety comes from.  When it finally hit theatres, it sold tickets.  Lots of tickets.  Just not enough to cover the gargantuan costs until years later.  Another film which had a notoriously long and expensive shoot was Apocalypse Now.  Would anybody call that one a bomb?  Cleopatra sold many more tickets, I'm sure.


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#123 of 181 OFFLINE   Paul Rossen

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Posted June 28 2013 - 12:18 PM

Twentieth Century-Fox was hemorrhaging money during its production, which gave Cleopatra its bad reputation over a year or more before it was finally released.  From 1960 to mid-1963, readers devoured news about Fox's money pit that was Cleopatra.  That's where its notoriety comes from.  When it finally hit theatres, it sold tickets.  Lots of tickets.  Just not enough to cover the gargantuan costs until years later.  Another film which had a notoriously long and expensive shoot was Apocalypse Now.  Would anybody call that one a bomb?  Cleopatra sold many more tickets, I'm sure.

Now that's a statement I can agree with having 'lived' through those times.  With regards to AN the Coppola film became the biggest movie Event since well...CLEOPATRA.  Neither was a bomb and my belief is that AN was robbed of a Best Picture win...and today is viewed as a classic.  



#124 of 181 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted June 28 2013 - 01:10 PM

So we should go by an erroneous decades ago perception by the uninformed Josh?

Gotcha.
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#125 of 181 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 28 2013 - 01:31 PM

I would classify Cleopatra as not a box office bomb, but more of a film that allowed "cost to make it" be so high, it was impossible for the studio to make a profit from just its initial theatrical run.  Spending 44M back in the early 60s to make film is like spending over 400M today to make a film.  Hell, it was the box office leader for 1963.  Sure, I understand about perception and how perception over time can become a reality, but in this case, that's just how it's remembered in some circles, but in the end, it made back Fox's money and then some.


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#126 of 181 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted June 28 2013 - 03:04 PM

Fox was desperate for "Cleopatra" to be a hit, therefore they threw every penny they could find at the production, hoping it would eventually translate into box office gold.  It was a severe case of mismanagement to be sure, but "Cleopatra" did eventually make good on Fox's outlay.



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#127 of 181 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted June 29 2013 - 08:21 AM

It's the same nonsense that had the movie "John Carter" labeled as terrible prior to release, when actually it's really quite good. Some films get hit with stink and never get the smell off.

if you want read about how Disney totally screwed up the marketing of JC, try "John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood." It's a good read about how Disney willfully screwed over their own tent pole epic.
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#128 of 181 OFFLINE   JoshZ

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Posted July 01 2013 - 07:02 AM

I've never seen it mentioned or reported that CLEOPATRA was a massive failure except by certain critics in reviewing the film.  

 

And why would the critics say that if there was never a perception that the movie was a bomb? They're just making it up to be spiteful?

 

 

 

So we should go by an erroneous decades ago perception by the uninformed Josh?

Gotcha.

 

Whatever. I guess it's all my fault. The movie has never been called a flop by anyone. I'm just making that up. If you Google "Cleopatra flop," it doesn't at all pull in 14,000,000 results in .27 seconds. Nope, I'm totally lying about that. Everyone's always thought that Cleopatra was a huge hit. It's never had a reputation for being a bomb at all. :rolleyes:


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#129 of 181 OFFLINE   Paul Rossen

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Posted July 01 2013 - 07:19 AM

And why would the critics say that if there was never a perception that the movie was a bomb? They're just making it up to be spiteful?

 

 

 

 

Whatever. I guess it's all my fault. The movie has never been called a flop by anyone. I'm just making that up. If you Google "Cleopatra flop," it doesn't at all pull in 14,000,000 results in .27 seconds. Nope, I'm totally lying about that. Everyone's always thought that Cleopatra was a huge hit. It's never had a reputation for being a bomb at all. :rolleyes:

Perception is one thing.  Reality is another.  14,000,000  results don't change the facts. Cleopatra was not a financial 'bust'. As previously stated by others the poor perception is based on it's prolonged production schedule and the Burton/Taylor romantic scandal of the time. Due to its outsized publicity Cleopatra was the biggest movie event since GWTW.  Critical judgments at the time were mixed.  Here in NY the NYTimes gave it a rave while the NY Herald Tribune critic Judith Crist hated it.  The film ultimately made a profit unlike Heaven's Gate which probably lost close to it's cost of $40mil+.


Edited by Paul Rossen, July 01 2013 - 07:23 AM.

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#130 of 181 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted July 01 2013 - 07:21 AM

Honestly, I'm not sure why the last few pages of this thread have had to devolve into a discussion as to whether Cleopatra was a "bomb" or not (either artistically or financially).  There are so many variables and differing criteria as to what makes a film successful.  It's easy to see why people would have differing viewpoints on the subject. And I'm not sure where winning or losing this particular argument (possibly semantical) becomes important.

 

Personally, I'd rather hear more about the film itself (and it's rich history) and the transfer.

 

But let's NOT start getting personal about those with differing points of view. 


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#131 of 181 OFFLINE   Douglas R

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Posted July 01 2013 - 08:58 AM

Honestly, I'm not sure why the last few pages of this thread have had to devolve into a discussion as to whether Cleopatra was a "bomb" or not (either artistically or financially).  There are so many variables and differing criteria as to what makes a film successful.  It's easy to see why people would have differing viewpoints on the subject. And I'm not sure where winning or losing this particular argument (possibly semantical) becomes important.

 

 

Yes but let's not try and rewrite history into making out that CLEOPATRA was some sort of great success. It wasn't just a few critics who said it was a failure because I remember reading numerous general news reports in papers and magazines at the time reporting on what a total disaster the film had been. Didn't Fox have to close down production for a long time because the film had been so ruinous for them?


Edited by Douglas R, July 01 2013 - 08:59 AM.


#132 of 181 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted July 01 2013 - 09:32 AM

Yes but let's not try and rewrite history into making out that CLEOPATRA was some sort of great success. It wasn't just a few critics who said it was a failure because I remember reading numerous general news reports in papers and magazines at the time reporting on what a total disaster the film had been. Didn't Fox have to close down production for a long time because the film had been so ruinous for them?

 

Fox closed down production on all other movies while Cleopatra was still shooting, and until Cleopatra and The Longest Day began generating revenue, Fox did not initiate new projects. The shut-down was not because Cleopatra failed to generate revenue once it had opened.

 

The need to stop spending money on anything else was not exclusively due to the massive cost-overrun on Cleopatra. Marilyn Monroe's last movie was also a factor.



#133 of 181 OFFLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted July 01 2013 - 09:46 AM

The film was a total disaster for Fox during its years and years of production, nearly bankrupting the studio.  Richard Zanuck virtually shut down the studio in order to save it.  Fox's darkest days were during its production, not during its release.  It's all in the fascinating documentary on the Bluray.  It was indeed a huge white elephant.

 

But when it was released, it was the movie that everyone simply HAD to see.  It was the movie event of the year.  We'd all been reading about it for years and everyone wanted to see the end result.  It grossed tens of millions of dollars.  Trouble was, it cost tens of millions of dollars to make.

 

The reviews were mixed with a lot of critical resentment that so much money could be spent on one film.  It was Exhibit A on how NOT to make a movie in the New Hollywood.  It was big, bloated, overlong and yet hacked to bits.  Thus, it earned lots of well-deserved negative press which obviously haunts the film to this day.

 

But it grossed very well indeed and ultimately made money with its sale to television.   Thus you can't really call it a bomb.  A nightmarish production with many disasters in its gestation, definitely, but not a box-office disaster.  Fox wouldn't be here today if it had laid the egg some say it did.

 

The behind-the-scenes story is so much more interesting than what's on the screen.  When is someone going to film a "My Two Years with Liz" movie?


Edited by Rob_Ray, July 01 2013 - 09:50 AM.

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#134 of 181 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted July 01 2013 - 10:29 AM


 

The behind-the-scenes story is so much more interesting than what's on the screen.  When is someone going to film a "My Two Years with Liz" movie?

 

As long as they cast Lindsay Lohan in the title role, it'll all be good.  :biggrin:


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#135 of 181 OFFLINE   Paul Rossen

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Posted July 01 2013 - 11:23 AM

The film was a total disaster for Fox during its years and years of production, nearly bankrupting the studio.  Richard Zanuck virtually shut down the studio in order to save it.  Fox's darkest days were during its production, not during its release.  It's all in the fascinating documentary on the Bluray.  It was indeed a huge white elephant.

 

But when it was released, it was the movie that everyone simply HAD to see.  It was the movie event of the year.  We'd all been reading about it for years and everyone wanted to see the end result.  It grossed tens of millions of dollars.  Trouble was, it cost tens of millions of dollars to make.

 

The reviews were mixed with a lot of critical resentment that so much money could be spent on one film.  It was Exhibit A on how NOT to make a movie in the New Hollywood.  It was big, bloated, overlong and yet hacked to bits.  Thus, it earned lots of well-deserved negative press which obviously haunts the film to this day.

 

But it grossed very well indeed and ultimately made money with its sale to television.   Thus you can't really call it a bomb.  A nightmarish production with many disasters in its gestation, definitely, but not a box-office disaster.  Fox wouldn't be here today if it had laid the egg some say it did.

 

The behind-the-scenes story is so much more interesting than what's on the screen.  When is someone going to film a "My Two Years with Liz" movie?

That's the way it was... An aside note...When CLEOPATRA opened at The Rivoli the top charge was $5.50...an unheard of charge to see a film in 1963!


Edited by Paul Rossen, July 01 2013 - 11:30 AM.


#136 of 181 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted July 01 2013 - 01:33 PM

What it comes down to is, nobody disputes the film was TAGGED as a bomb, but it's irksome to hear it repeated now that we know this is an erroneous impression
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#137 of 181 OFFLINE   Ethan Riley

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Posted July 01 2013 - 02:00 PM

I don't know if it's a bomb...it's easy on the eyes.
 

 


#138 of 181 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted July 01 2013 - 02:43 PM

In terms of Elizabeth Taylor, I'd reserve "Boom!" for the bomb.


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#139 of 181 OFFLINE   AdrianTurner

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Posted July 22 2013 - 10:49 PM

An interesting drama on the BBC last night - Burton and Taylor, starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as the two stars.  The drama covered the relatively short period in 1983 when the pair were starring on Broadway in Noel Coward's Private Lives.  Apart from the fact that West and Bonham Carter looked nothing like the people they were playing (West looked more like Peter Finch; Bonham Carter more like Bette Davis in Baby Jane), this was quite a touching and always sad drama with Burton emerging as a brilliant, dedicated and wholly professional actor and Taylor emerging as a dissolute bitch.  There was some stylish production values as well - shot in 2.35:1, the recreation of the stage show and the audience reaction was quite brilliant.  

 

There was also a documentary about Burton's life as seen through his own diaries, and a repeat of a 13 year-old Omnibus doco about Elizabeth.   Showing tonight on the BBC is the documentary from the DVD: Cleopatra, The Film That Changed Hollywood..



#140 of 181 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted July 23 2013 - 04:52 AM

Sounds very interesting.  Looking forward to it arriving on these shores.







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