If you ask someone about Cleopatra, they’re more likely to talk about how it famously went over-budget and nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox than they are the movie itself. It’s known for its incredibly difficult production (you can read more about that fascinating story here), being a flop (which it wasn’t, incidentally) and for being the first movie where the main star pocketed $1 million upfront for a single movie.
Indeed Elizabeth Taylor ended up with a lot more than that. Her contract meant she got paid extra for every day production overran compared to initial projections, so after an illness nearly killed her, production moved from England to Italy, the director and actors around her changed and other overruns added months to the production, it meant she got paid millions. Cleopatra is famous for perhaps being the most expensive movie ever made, if adjusted for inflation, and Elizabeth Taylor may well still be the best paid actress ever for a single movie, by the same measure. [Read more…]