Founded in 1935 by Herbert Yates as a merger of several smaller "poverty row" studios, Republic in its heyday produced memorable feature films such as The Quiet Man and Sands of Iwo Jima (both with John Wayne), Johnny Guitar, and The Maverick Queen. Many Western stars such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers made their home at Republic. The company also built its reputation on its numerous Saturday-afternoon cliffhanger serials.
The original Republic Pictures as a production unit closed down in 1959. Around that same time a company called National Telefilm Associates (NTA) acquired the Republic library for television, as well as other holdings such as the Betty Boop/Max Fleischer cartoons, It's a Wonderful Life, selected Cary Grant films, and many early United Artists releases. In 1963, the Republic studio facilities were sold to CBS, and their location today is part of CBS Television City.
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 including Freeway.
In 1993, Republic (which 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, thus today Republic is a wholly-owned division of Paramount/Viacom.
Today's Republic Pictures is responsible for a backlog 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.) backlogs, 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 Artisan Entertainment for video, and under Paramount Pictures for all other media.