On Saturday, September 23, 1939, producer David O. Selznick wrote a long letter to Nicholas Schenck, president of MGM and Loew’s, Inc., the soon-to-be distributor of Gone With the Wind. Selznick shared his thoughts about the film’s theatrical release.
He encouraged Schenck to consider special ticket pricing for Gone With the Wind. Regular movie tickets at this time were usually around 25 cents and rarely cost more than 50 cents. But Selznick believed that Gone With the Wind was no regular movie. The film was going to be an extravaganza and should be priced accordingly – maybe even as high as $2.50 per ticket!
Selznick also believed that Gone With the Wind should be released to select theaters across the country. The limited release would guarantee that Gone With the Wind would grace only the best theaters and would also stoke the public’s desire to see Gone With the Wind once the film was in general release.
Selznick also appealed to Schenck’s sense of fairness regarding the revenue Gone With the Wind was expected to earn. As part of the deal for Clark Gable’s services, Selznick had agreed to give 50 percent of the profits to MGM and a 20 percent distribution fee to Loew’s. Was there wiggle room with the percentages?
Surprisingly, Schenck agreed! He acknowledged that the deal had been a favorable one for MGM and Loew’s and reduced the distribution fee to 15 percent.
Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition) and an expert on the film and its history. Visit the website (www.paulinebartel.com/resources/books/books-available) for further information. Follow her on Twitter @PaulineBartel and “like” her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheCompleteGWTWTriviaBook).