Failure that plants a seed for future success.
The movie It’s a Wonderful Life is now a Christmas holiday classic. Produced in 1946 by Liberty Films, it was a box office failure. Liberty Films couldn’t recoup the $2.3 million production costs, closing its doors in 1951. After a number of sales, Republic Pictures ended up owning the film. At the time it was filmed, copyrights lasted for 28 years. Copyrights could be renewed for another 28 years through registration with the copyright office.
The first 28 years of copyright for It’s a Wonderful Life ended in 1974. Republic Pictures failed to register a renewal. The film became part of the public domain. Anyone could show the film without asking permission. This meant hundreds of local television stations could air the film every Christmas. These local airings went on for about 20 years, making It’s a Wonderful Life a success as a holiday classic. Republic Pictures reasserted its copyright in court in 1993, giving airing rights exclusively to the NBC TV Network in 1996.
Republic Picture’s failure to renew
the copyright for It’s a Wonderful Life
planted a seed for the future success of
a box office failure.
Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present
All rights reserved.
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