Wondrous Facts About It's A Wonderful Life

By Grace Taylor
Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Karolyn Grimes in It's A Wonderful Life. (National Telefilm Associates/Wikimedia Commons)

It Wasn't Destined To Be A Christmas Classic

It is hard to imagine now, but It's A Wonderful Life was a dud at the box office, not even making back its $6.3 million budget. Maybe a holiday tale about a suicidal man just wasn't what people wanted right after the end of World War II. Likewise, critics found the movie corny, though the Academy had some foresight when they gave the film five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

In fact, the reason it became the go-to Christmas movie in the first place was because the film's performance was so lackluster that the people in charge of keeping up the copyright were careless enough to let it slip into public domain in 1974. Always looking for cheap content, several television channels scooped up the movie and ran it for little cost on their stations around Christmastime. Whether it was nostalgia, an appreciation for the story, or the movie just being drilled into our heads over and over again, the film became a fan favorite over the following decades.

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