Saturday, July 20, 2013

Republic Pictures - The Little Indie Company that Owns Almost Everything in Film

Republic Pictures is one of the first major independent movie studios best known for creating B-movies featuring A-list stars. Founded in 1935 by Herbert Yates as a merger of several smaller "poverty row" studios, Republic produced memorable feature films and launched the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry, Rex Allen, and Roy Rogers.

Republic Pictures earned its greatest reputation for its numerous serials, which were generally considered the best in the business. The company introduced choreographed fight scenes, and excelled in the special effects of model work, explosions, and simulating superheroes' ability to fly.

Republic exploded into national prominence with its focus in westerns, movie serials and B-films emphasizing mystery and action, the staples of Saturday afternoon matinees. The studio rocketed serials like The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe into the public imagination throughout its fabled 24-year history. Notable Republic Pictures include Under Western Stars (1938), Flying Tigers (1942), Macbeth (1948), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), The Red Pony (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), and Johnny Guitar (1954).

The original Republic Pictures as a feature-film production unit closed down in 1959. NTA (National Telefilm Associates) acquired the Republic library for television. In 1967, the Republic studio facilities were sold to CBS, and their location today is part of CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California.

By 1986 film partners bought NTA and transformed it into the resurrected Republic Pictures, and the studio went into production for the first time in 27 years. They went mainly into TV production, responsible for the CBS series Beauty and the Beast and other TV movies, although they did produce few independent theatrical films.

In 1993, Republic (by this time had become a subsidiary of Spelling Entertainment) won a landmark legal decision reactivating the copyright on Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life (they had already owned the film's negative, music score, and the story on which it was based, "The Greatest Gift").

Shortly thereafter, Spelling consolidated its many divisions, reducing Republic Pictures to an in-name-only distribution company (which is how Republic continues to function today). By the end of the decade, Viacom bought the portion of Spelling it did not own previously, today Republic is a wholly-owned division of Paramount/Viacom.

Today's Republic Pictures is responsible for a catalog of 3,000 films and TV series, including the pre-1973 NBC library (including Bonanza), most of the Quinn Martin (The Fugitive, The Streets of San Francisco, etc.) and Aaron Spelling (The Love Boat, Twin Peaks, Beverly Hills 90210, etc.) catalog, and the aforementioned select pre-1952 UA (High Noon, Copacabana, etc.) and NTA holdings (Fleischer cartoons, It's a Wonderful Life, etc.), though they are now distributed under license with Lions Gate Home Entertainment for video, and under Paramount Pictures for all other media.

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