Wizard of Oz 1939 original poster via Wikimedia
CAIRO – 17 August 2017: Today in History, the beloved 1939 cinematic classic, 'The Wizard of Oz,' had one of its first premieres in New York City at Loew's Capital Theatre, over a week before its nationwide premiere on August 15.
Directed by Victor Fleming, the musical fantasy film was based on the classic book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by author L. Frank Baum.
The story follows a young girl named Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) who is swept away with her little dog Toto from their farm in Kansas into the strange, magical Land of Oz, where she has to follow the yellow brick road with the help of her friends; the Scarecrow who wants a Brain (Ray Bolger), the Lion who wants to be brave (Bert Lahr) and the Tin Man who wishes he had a heart (Jack Haley).
As they journey to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan) who can grant everyone's wishes, the heroes must avoid the Wicked Witch of the East (Margaret Hamilton) and her army of flying monkeys. The film is still remembered for its lovable cast of characters, imaginative setting and costume designs and its clever use of Technicolor; while the Land of Oz is bright and colorful, the 'real world' of Kansas was portrayed with a sepia tone.
For the film's premiere at the Loew Capital Theatre actress Garland and comedian actor Mickey Rooney held special live performances after each screening. About 15,000 people had come to see the film at the Loew Capital Theatre, according to the Telegraph.
Despite eventually becoming one of Hollywood's most all-time beloved movies, The Wizard of Oz was not a huge commercial success upon its release. The film's production company MGM was disappointed when the film only made back $3 million from its budget of $2.8 million, though subsequent release would see a gain of $1 million, and the film eventually won two Oscars and critical adoration. Thanks to Television as well, the movie became one of the most watched films of all time, gathering an audience of 100 million in the UK alone, according to the Telegraph.