Republic Pictures

From Academic Kids

Republic Pictures Corporation was a movie production-distribution company with studio facilities, best known for its specialization in quality b westerns and movie serials.

Corporate History

Created in 1935 by Herbert J. Yates through the union of three smaller poverty row studios, and sometimes considered to *be* a poverty row company, Republic by the mid-1940s began to show bigger ambitions with an occasional A-film such as The Quiet Man and Sands of Iwo Jima (both with John Wayne), Johnny Guitar, and The Maverick Queen. Many Western film stars such as Gene Autry, Rex Allen, and Roy Rogers made their home at Republic. Some later Republic films featured Vera Hruba Ralston, a former ice-skater who captured the heart of Herbert J. Yates, if not that of the movie-going public.

To begin Republic, Yates convinced the owners of three smaller production companies to join him, under the umbrella of his own Consolidated Film Laboratories, in the creation of the new firm. Monogram Pictures, founded by Trem Carr and W. Ray Johnston, also a sizeable company specializing in B-films; and M. H. Hoffman's Liberty Films, a much smaller firm from which Republic took its first, Liberty Bell, logo, were two. The third company was Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures, had been making serials exclusively since the mid-1920s and was the only such company to survive the transition to sound film. Mascot had its own studio facility, the former Sennett lot in Studio City. With this maneuver, Yates began operating Republic immediately with a staff of experts in the production and distribution of B-films and serials, and a studio in which to make them.

Missing image
Adventures_of_captain_marvel.jpg
The Adventures of Captain Marvel, the most celebrated of Republic's serials.

Continuing the speciality of this last component, Republic Pictures earned its greatest reputation for its numerous serials, which were generally considered the best in the business, especially with the director team John English and William Witney. The company introduced choreographed fight scenes, and the Lydecker brothers excelled in the special effects of model work, explosions, and simulating superheroes' ability to fly. Republic continued to produce serials until 1955, outlasting all other serial-makers except Columbia Pictures, but even Columbia could never match Republic for technical expertise.

Republic was the first Hollywood studio to offer its library to television, creating a subsidiary, Hollywood Television Service, to peddle its vintage westerns and action thrillers. Also, in 1952 the Republic studio lot became the first home of MCA's Revue Productions, so by the mid-fifties, television had become the prop holding up Republic Pictures. As the demand and market for B-pictures declined, Republic began to cut back, dropping production from forty features in the early 1950s to about eighteen in 1957. Feature film production ended at Republic Pictures in 1958; the company distributed no new product after 1959. In the early 60s, Republic sold its library of films to National Telefilm Associates (NTA). In 1963, the Republic studio was sold to CBS, and that facility today is CBS's Studio Center. The parent company, Republic Corporation, survived for some years on Yates's other interests, including the Consolidated Film labs, and the manufacture of household appliances. Other than producing a package of 26 made-for-TV movies edited from some of the Republic serials, its role in Hollywood ended with the sale of the studio lot.

Aftermath

During the early 1980s, NTA resyndicated most of the Republic film library for use by the quickly emerging cable televsion stations, and by 1986 found itself so successful with these product lines that it bought the Republic Pictures name and logo, and went into production under that name. 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 including Freeway. The new Republic also began marketing the original's serial library on videotape.

In 1993, the new Republic had become a subsidiary of Spelling Entertainment and won a landmark legal decision reactivating the copyright on Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life (as NTA, they had already acquired 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. In 1995, Republic's video division ceased operations, allowing the video rights to the Republic library to be leased to Artisan Entertainment, while the library itself continued to be released under the Republic name and logo. By the end of the decade, Viacom bought the portion of Spelling it did not own previously, thus Republic became a wholly-owned division of the Paramount/Viacom conglomerate, although Artisan (which later became Lions Gate Home Entertainment) continued to use the Republic name, logo, and library under license from Paramount/Viacom.

As of 2005, the Republic Pictures holdings consist of 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.). These are now sold on video through Lions Gate Home Entertainment, while Paramount Pictures holds television and theatrical distribution rights.

In September of 2005, Paramount will gain full use of the Republic library as they will inherit the video rights from Lions Gate.

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