Daryl Zanuck was an early advocate of widescreen projection. One of the first things Zanuck did when he returned to Fox in 1944 was to restart the research on a 50mm film, shelved in the early 1930s as a cost-cutting measure (a larger-sized film in the projector meant higher resolution). Impressed by a screening in Cinerama, a three-projector widescreen process, unveiled in 1952 that promised to envelop the viewer in a wrap-around image, Zanuck wrote an essay extolling widescreen’s virtues, seeing the new formats as a “participatory” form of recreation, rather than mere passive entertainment, such as television. But Cinerama was cumbersome, and used three projectors simultaneously, potentially a hugely expensive investment. Fox, like every other studio had rejected Cinerama when the innovative new process was pitched to them for investment. In retrospect, this looked like a mistake, but nothing could be done. Cinerama was no longer for sale.
Zanuck now urged the studio to keep the same principle, but find a more feasible approach. He approved a massive investment into a system that would be called Cinemascope—$10 million in its first year alone. The urgency was increased when an aggressive appliance tycoon and shareholder, Charles Green, began threatening a proxy takeover, claiming the current Fox administration was wasting stockholders money. He attempted to conspire with Zanuck to oust the New York-based President of Fox since 1942, Greek-American Spyros Skouras. Zanuck refused; instead, he and Skouras decided to gamble on Cinemascope to save their jobs, and perhaps, their studio.