On May 1, 1941, Citizen Kane was released. And was a flop at the box office. Wait, what?!? Unfortunately, Orson Welles had picked on the wrong guy. The film was loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, a powerful (and somewhat infamous) businessman and newspaper tycoon.
Hot off the success and notoriety of his famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast, Welles was eager to embark on an ambitious undertaking. Early previews of the movie got excellent reviews, but word got back to Hearst quickly that the film did not portray his life in the most positive light. Hearst used his newspapers, influence, and resources to try to kill the film. He succeed in limiting the release to fewer theaters, which resulted in the low box office numbers.
However, the film was re-released in 1956 (5 years after Hearst’s death) and was given a second life. It quickly was recognized for its brilliance and grew to the legendary status it holds today.
To see more of Orson Welles, visit the gallery.