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Republic Pictures

 

Republic Pictures Corporation was an American motion picture production-distribution corporation in operation from 1935 to 1967, that was based in Los Angeles, California. It had studio facilities in Studio City and a movie ranch in Encino. It was best known for specializing in Westerns, serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action. Republic was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It was also responsible for the financing and distribution of several John Ford-directed films during the 1940s and early 1950s and one Shakespeare film, Macbeth (1948), directed by Orson Welles.
Acquiring and integrating these six companies enabled Republic to begin life with an experienced production staff, a company of veteran B-film supporting players and at least one very promising star, a complete distribution system and a functioning and modern studio. In exchange for merging, the principals were promised independence in their productions under the Republic aegis, and higher budgets with which to improve the quality of the films. After he had learned the basics of film production and distribution from his partners, Yates began asserting more and more authority over their film departments, and dissension arose in the ranks. Carr and Johnston left and reactivated Monogram Pictures in 1937; Darmour resumed independent production for Columbia Pictures; Levine left and never recovered from the loss of his studio, staff and stars, all of whom now were contracted to Republic and Yates. Meanwhile, Yates installed a staff of new, "associate" producers who were loyal to him. Freed of partners, Yates presided over what was now his film studio and acquiring senior production and management staff who served him as employees, not experienced peers with independent ideas and agendas.
With production costs increasing, Yates organised Republic's output into four types of films: "Jubilee", usually a western shot in seven days for about $50,000; "Anniversary", filmed in 14-15 days for $175,000-$200,000; "Deluxe", major productions made with a budget of around $500,000; and "Premiere", which were usually made by top-rank directors who did not usually work for Republic, such as John Ford, Fritz Lang and Frank Borzage, and which could have a budget of $1,000,000 or more. Some of these "Deluxe" films were from independent production companies that were picked up for release by Republic.
Republic was one of the first Hollywood studios to offer its film library to television. In 1951 Republic established a subsidiary, Hollywood Television Service, to sell screening rights in its vintage westerns and action thrillers. Many of these films, especially the westerns, were edited to fit in a one-hour television slot.
Hollywood Television Service also produced television shows filmed in the same style as Republic's serials, such as The Adventures of Fu Manchu (1956). Also, in 1952 the Republic studio lot became the first home of MCA's series factory, Revue Productions.
In 1959 Victor M. Carter, a Los Angeles businessman and turnaround specialist, acquired controlling interest in the floundering company, becoming its president. He turned Republic into a diversified business that included plastics and appliances in addition to its film and studio rentals and Consolidated Film Industries, renaming the company Republic Corporations. Having used the studio for series production for years, Republic began leasing its backlot to other firms, including CBS, in 1963. In 1967 Republic's studio was purchased outright by CBS and, having more than quadrupled the stock price for shareholders, Carter sold his controlling interest. Other than producing a 1966 package of 26 Century 66 100-minute made-for-TV movies edited from some of the studio's serials to cash in on the popularity of the Batman television series, Republic Pictures' role in Hollywood ended with the sale of the studio lot. Republic sold its library of films to National Telefilm Associates (NTA).
In 1996, Republic shut down its film production unit. In September 1997, Republic's video rental operations were taken over by Paramount Home Video; its sell-through operations remained. In September 1998, Spelling licensed the American and Canadian video rights to its library 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 Paramount. Artisan (later sold to Lionsgate Home Entertainment) continued to use the Republic name, logo and library under license from Paramount. Republic Pictures' holdings consist of a catalog of 3,000 films and TV series, including the original Republic library (except for the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry catalogs, owned by their respective estates) and inherited properties from NTA and Aaron Spelling.

 


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