Study Guide

The Sound of Music Production Studio

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Production Studio

20th Century Fox

One of the big-deal Hollywood film studios, 20th Century Fox dates its founding all the way back to 1915 as the Fox Film Corporation. The studio really found its mojo when it merged in 1935 with producer Darryl F. Zanuck's Twentieth Century Pictures. They quickly earned respect in the 1940s with two Oscar-winning films, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and How Green Was My Valley (1941).

Zanuck wasn't afraid to take on controversial subjects like anti-Semitism (Gentleman's Agreement, Best Picture 1947) and mental illness (Snake Pit, 1948). The 1950s saw Fox with a string of hits based on Broadway musicals, including Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), The King and I (1956) and South Pacific (1958).

But when 20th Century Fox took on The Sound of Music, the company was in big trouble. Its last film, Cleopatra, had almost bankrupted the studio, costing $44 million (over $300 in today's dollars). The off-screen shenanigans between its stars, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, caused a ton of problems for the production.

Bottom line: The Sound of Music was an expensive gamble—one that paid off big-time for Fox. The film's smashing box office success saved the studio from financial disaster.

Fox still excels in big-budget fare and/or films that are likely to be popular with a wider audience... you know, stuff like Star Wars, The Martian, Avatar, and everything in the Taken series.

Not that we're comparing Maria to Yoda.

But we kind of are.

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