JERICHO, NY, February 15, 2001 – This April, AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS will air CLEOPATRA: THE FILM THAT CHANGED HOLLYWOOD, an in-depth look at the most expensive film ever made. For nearly four decades the story of Cleopatra has been shrouded in rumor and marred by gossip, but now this remarkable story is told for the first time through this special two-hour documentary event. Backstory is a weekly series which takes an in-depth look at the making of a great movie, with occasional, longer format episodes presented as Backstory Special Edition.
Airing at 8:00 PM (ET) on Tuesday, April 3, CLEOPATRA: THE FILM THAT CHANGED HOLLYWOOD explores the myriad of dramatic conflicts, love affairs, soaring cost overruns and near death experiences that miraculously produced what stands as one of the great epic cinematic visions of all time.
It began as a two million dollar “quickie” that could be shot on the backlot and give 20th Century Fox a chance to turn a hefty profit. Numerous troubles plagued the production of Cleopatra. Costs skyrocketed, locations changed, directors and stars had to be replaced and Elizabeth Taylor nearly died. Taylor and Richard Burton commenced a highly publicized affair, while director
Joseph L. Mankiewicz worked vigorously to meet the extreme demands and deadlines of the ambitious production.
The film was sold out for months and was nominated for nine Oscars