SHOW BUSINESS: Record Wind

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As risk-laden as coins in a slot machine are Hollywood's top-budget pictures. Occasionally one hits the jackpot. Birth of a Nation hit it for the industry's all-time box-office gross: over $15,000,000 (in 25 years). Big Parade, Ben Hur hit it for over $10,000,000 each. Snow White hit it for better than $8,000,000 to date, is still going strong. But no picture ever grossed so much in so short a time as Gone With the Wind.

At the close of its eighth week last week GWTW, playing 156 theatres in 150 U. S. cities, had brought $5,567,000 to the box office. One of Producer Selznick's worries at the time of the premiere was how long it would take GWTW to make the $5,000,000 that it had to make before it began to earn any profits at all. Priced from 75¢ (matinee) to $2.20 (Manhattan's Astor), it had toppled house records almost everywhere. Produced for $3,850,000, it was expected to gross up to $20,000,000 in a year and a half (with foreign distribution). That would make a handsome profit for Distributor (and part owner) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Producer David Selznick (Selznick International), who split a reputed 70% of the box-office gross. And since the book on which it was based was the fastest selling U. S. novel, it would also copper-rivet GWTW as the all-time hard-cash classic.

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