Based on a best-selling novel and negrophobic play called 'The Clansman', he produced a three-hour epic that, in 1915, set a new standard for film production and absorbing melodrama. It follows the lives of two white families divided by. and enduring, the American Civil War, and includes elaborate cameos of historical events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Costing the then unprecedented sum of $100,000 to make, it opened in Los Angeles on 8 February 1915 and quickly became the most successful silent film ever made. It grossed over $10 million on its first release. Many denounced its overt racism and wars with the censors were used for publicity with brilliant effect. Social reformers constantly denounced the film's racism and historians protested about its claims to historical accuracy. Wherever it was shown, protests, and sometimes riots, ensued and authorities frequently enforced cuts of the more offensive parts of the film.