Orson Welles was originally hired only to act in the film, but due to a misunderstanding, Charlton Heston understood that Welles was to be the director. To keep Heston happy, producer Albert Zugsmith allowed Welles to direct.
To keep studio execs off his back, Orson Welles claimed the cast and crew were “in rehearsal” during the first few days of shooting, when in fact they were actually shooting the film. It took a number of days before the studio caught on.
RKO chopped 50 minutes of the film and added a happy ending while Orson Welles was out of the country. The cut footage was subsequently destroyed; the only record of the removed scenes is the cutting continuity transcript.
For the new footage in the opening newsreel to look suitably grainy, editor Robert Wise came up with the idea of physically dragging the footage across a stone floor and running across a cheesecloth filled with sand. These efforts went unappreciated in some quarters: one cinema distributor contacted RKO to complain about the film stock being of inferior quality and demanded a replacement print.
Citizen Kane cost only $839,727 ($12,941,221.31 today). It used various special effects to make it seem like a larger movie, such as matte paintings, stock footage, reusing sets and models. It made $1,585,634 ($24,436,561.53 today.)