It’s a Wonderful Life is considered a Christmas classic, but that wasn’t always the case. When the film was first released in 1946, it performed poorly at the box office, earning only $ 3.3 million on a $ 3.7 million budget. It was during the ‘70s that the film became a Christmas staple when it was aired on television during the holiday season. It’s been over 70 years since the film was first released, so check out these 10 things most people don’t know about It’s a Wonderful Life:
The movie is based on a story called “The Greatest Gift,” which was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in November 1939. After he failed to get the story published, he made it into a Christmas card and mailed 200 copies to friends and family in December 1943; that is when it came to the attention of producer David Hempstead. He showed it to Cary Grant’s Hollywood agent, and in 1994, RKO Pictures bought the rights to the story for $ 10,000 and was hoping to have Grant to star in the movie version but, after three unsatisfactory scripts, the film was shelved, and Grant went off to make another Christmas movie, The Bishop’s Wife.
In 1945, RKO sold the project to Frank Capra’s production company Liberty Films for $ 10,000 and threw in the three scripts for free. Capra along with writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker were brought in to “polish” the script, which was then renamed It’s a Wonderful Life. During pre-production and filming, the script underwent many revisions.
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