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Cleopatra was a much publicized about extravaganza. In fact, the film’s troubles and cost almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Nevertheless, the dazzling spectacle that eventually emerged captures that undeniable spark between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
For the leads, Joan Collins, Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd were originally cast as Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Anthony, but due to delays in filming, they had to be replaced.
Elizabeth Taylor got to choose the director as part of her deal. She suggested either George Stevens or Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
The total cost for the film was approximately $31 million. The original budget was only $2 million. Taylor was given $1 million for her part.
The original cut of the film was approximately six hours long. Mankiewicz wanted to release the film in two separate parts.