Ancient History Movie Trivia & Facts: “Cleopatra” (1963) Part II

When you take inflation into consideration, you will find that the film “Cleopatra” is the most costly movie ever made in history with a budget of $44 million. When this figure was computed , the equivalent sum was equal to 270 million dollars in 1999. In this article, you will also find out why production was halted for more than six months and interesting contract clauses.

Just after shooting for the movie started in England, Elizabeth Taylor became sick and could not work. Since her character was quite prominent in regards to the filming of the movie, production was forced to shut down. This caused the resignation of the director, Rouben Mamoulian in 1961. Others signed off as well, including Stephen Boyd who had to work on other projects. The illness that Taylor suffered prevented her from working in England , due to the weather for six months. This is why the production was transferred to Rome. All of the sets and footage that had already been used were sent to scrap as a result.
Employees associated with the Cinecitta studios in Rome were responsible for the theft of millions of dollars worth of equipment and props. The thievery took place while production was still in the midst.

There was a clause in Rex Harrison’s contract that whenever a photo of Richard Burton appeared in an ad, he was entitled to one as well. This was put to the test when a large sign displaying Taylor and Burton was erected on Broadway. Harrison’s lawyers complained and the studio took down the original sign with one that showed Harrison’s face as well.

While the film was released in 1963, production started in 1960.

The set of Alexandria (which was quite large) was rebuilt a total of three times.

While many people are under the impression that the movie was one of the largest flops in movie history, the film actually made all of its money back regardless of the mounting costs. However, the recoup did not take place all at once. It took a couple of years and in the end, it was one of the highest grossing films of the 1960s.

According to the director (Joseph Mankiewicz), a handful of truly great scenes were cut out of the final production. He stated that about 90 to 120 minutes of character development and storylines are missing.

The budget for Elizabeth Taylor’s costumes was $194,800. This marks the highest amount ever for a single screen actor. Out of her 65 costumes, there was a dress that was created out of 24-carat gold cloth.

We came close to not viewing Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, as Susan Hayward was actually the first choice to play the Egyptian Queen. Marlon Brando came close to becoming part of the film, as he was sought after to play Mark Antony , but was already attached to “Mutiny on the Bounty.”