Colombia is a highly urbanized country. The largest cities in the country are Bogot, with an estimated 8 million inhabitants, Medelln, with an estimated 2.5 million inhabitants, Cali, with an estimated 2.4 million inhabitants, and Barranquilla, with an estimated 1.2 million inhabitants. Cartagena highlights in number of inhabitants and the city of Bucaramanga is relevant in terms of metropolitan area population.
Hollywood had shown interest in Welles as early as 1936. He turned down three scripts sent to him by Warner Bros. In 1937, he declined offers from David O. Selznick, who asked him to head his film company's story department, and William Wyler, who wanted him for a supporting role in Wuthering Heights. "Although the possibility of making huge amounts of money in Hollywood greatly attracted him," wrote biographer Frank Brady, "he was still totally, hopelessly, insanely in love with the theater, and it is there that he had every intention of remaining to make his mark."
Following "The War of the Worlds" broadcast of his CBS radio series The Mercury Theatre on the Air, Welles was lured to Hollywood with a remarkable contract. RKO Pictures studio head George J. Schaefer wanted to work with Welles after the notorious broadcast, believing that Welles had a gift for attracting mass attention. RKO was also uncharacteristically profitable and was entering into a series of independent production contracts that would add more artistically prestigious films to its roster. Throughout the spring and early summer of 1939, Schaefer constantly tried to lure the reluctant Welles to Hollywood. Welles was in financial trouble after failure of his plays Five Kings and The Green Goddess. At first he simply wanted to spend three months in Hollywood and earn enough money to pay his debts and fund his next theatrical season. Welles first arrived on July 20, 1939 and on his first tour, he called the movie studio "the greatest electric train set a boy ever had".
Welles signed his contract with RKO on August 21. This legendary contract stipulated that Welles would act in, direct, produce and write two films. Mercury would get $100,000 for the first film by January 1, 1940, plus 20% of profits after RKO recouped $500,000, and $125,000 for a second film by January 1, 1941, plus 20% of profits after RKO recouped $500,000. The most controversial aspect of the contract was granting Welles complete artistic control of the two films so long as RKO approved both project's stories and so long as the budget did not exceed $500,000. RKO executives would not be allowed to see any footage until Welles chose to show it to them, and no cuts could be made to either film without Welles's approval. Welles was allowed to develop the story without interference, select his own cast and crew, and have the right of final cut. Granting final cut privilege was unprecedented for a studio since it placed artistic considerations over financial investment. The contract was deeply resented in the film industry, and the Hollywood press took every opportunity to mock RKO and Welles. Schaefer remained a great supporter and saw the unprecedented contract as good publicity. Film scholar Robert L. Carringer wrote: "The simple fact seems to be that Schaefer believed Welles was going to pull off something really big almost as much as Welles did himself."
Welles spent the first five months of his RKO contract trying to get his first project going, without success. "They are laying bets over on the RKO lot that the Orson Welles deal will end up without Orson ever doing a picture there," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. It was agreed that Welles would film Heart of Darkness, previously adapted for The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which would be presented entirely through a first-person camera. After elaborate pre-production and a day of test shooting with a hand-held cameraunheard of at the timethe project never reached production because Welles was unable to trim $50,000 from its budget. Schaefer told Welles that the $500,000 budget could not be exceeded; as war loomed, revenue was declining sharply in Europe by the fall of 1939.
He then started work on the idea that became Citizen Kane. Knowing the script would take time to prepare, Welles suggested to RKO that while that was being done"so the year wouldn't be lost"he make a humorous political thriller. Welles proposed The Smiler with a Knife, from a novel by Cecil Day-Lewis. When that project stalled in December 1939, Welles began brainstorming other story ideas with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who had been writing Mercury radio scripts. "Arguing, inventing, discarding, these two powerful, headstrong, dazzlingly articulate personalities thrashed toward Kane", wrote biographer Richard Meryman.