The Wizard of Oz and Its Audience

Prior to its national release on August 25th, 1939, The Wizard of Oz premiered in 1939 at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (August 12), Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater (August 15), and New York’s Loew’s Capitol Theater (August 17). The New York premiere was especially notable because for a short time it was followed nightly with live performances by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

While it was not the first time Technicolor had been used in a film, The Wizard of Oz delighted audiences with the bridging of black and white and color technology as Dorothy goes from Kansas (b/w) to Oz (color) and back to Kansas (b/w)

Although the film opened to largely positive reviews from critics and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it was not initially a rousing box office success. In fact, the film’s premiere earned the studio a meager $3,017,000 against a budget of $2,000,000 (Hollywood’s largest production budget to that point).