The numbers are in and it turns out, MGM’s highly anticipated big screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a box office flop. Apparently most moviegoers weren’t really into the idea of a farm girl riding a tornado to an alternate world, stealing some dead woman’s shoes and frolicking down a yellow brick road arm in arm with a cowardly lion, tin man and scarecrow.
After going through a handful of directors before landing Victor Fleming and then struggling through a number of production challenges including some serious injuries on set, The Wizard of Oz wound up running MGM a whopping $2.7 million tab, but then only went on to accumulate a total of $3 million during its theatrical run. Tack on distribution and various other costs, and that makes The Wizard of Oz a $1.1 million loss for the company. Clearly it’s not the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-sized smash hit MGM was hoping for.
However, on the bright size, those who did see the film adore it. Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times did criticize some of the effects, but he also dubbed it a “delightful piece of wonder-working which had the youngsters’ eyes shining and brought a quietly amused gleam to the wiser ones of the oldsters.” Trouble is, at this point, positive word-of-mouth and even some Academy Award wins and nods can’t change the fact that the film isn’t a box office hit. Maybe MGM will get lucky and it’ll wind up becoming a cult classic.
Check back on the hour for more breaking news.