cast of thousands
  an advertising claim, often used in big-screen historical epics of the 1930s-60s, when literally 1,000s of extras were hired for crowd scenes, battle scenes, etc
  Examples: Spartacus (1960) (pictured), Cleopatra (1963). To reduce costs, recent films use CGI to create fictional crowds, such as in Gladiator (2000).

Glossary of cinematic terms . 2015.

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