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Movie Rights

Back in 1931, Irving Thalberg of MGM decided he wanted to buy the film rights to Tarzan, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. so Thalberg sent Sam Marx to negotiate with Burroughs, telling Marx not to spend more than $100,000, an extraordinarily large sum in those days. Marx contacted Burroughs and asked how much he wanted for the film rights.

“$100,000,” said Burroughs.

When Marx offered him $25,000, Burroughs walked out of the meeting. However, Marx and Burroughs continued to negotiate throughout the summer. Burroughs eventually settled for $40,000. After signing the contract, Burroughs admitted that he had wanted MGM and Thalberg to make the picture so badly, they could have had it for nothing if they had insisted.

“Mr. Burroughs,” replied Marx, “If you had held out, you would have gotten $100,000!”

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