I must have read some mis-information on the longevity of early technicolor films.
The Vitaphone Project has located a complete Technicolor print of the long-lost Stooges 1933 MGM Colortone short HELLO POP! This is the only lost short with all three Stooges, and also stars Ted Healy and Henry Armetta. The 35mm nitrate print was found overseas and after some torturous steps to get the nitrate packaged and shipped, it is today safely in the hands of Eric Aijayla at YCM labs. Ned Price at WB has ensured the funding of the restoration, and ideally we could see this within a year. The sole known print burned in the big MGM fire in the 1960's.
What I don't get is, even in the 30's, there must have been at least dozens of copies of this short sent out to theaters when it was released. How is it there's only one copy left to get burned up in the 1960's?
Outside of the copy in Australia of course. Unless all copies were technicolor and they all disintegrated.
They can't have been as anal about keeping track of copies of films in the 30's as they are now.
I think this gives us hope that some of those missing Doctor Who episodes could turn up, if a 2-reeler missing for 50 years can be found.
After the release in cinemas had ended there would be a request by the studio for those films to either be returned or destroyed (similar to what happened to Dr Who episodes). If a studio is sitting on 12 prints but only needs to retain one (IE the original negative for example) then the other 11 get junked, and in future if any re-release is sold then more copies are run off that surviving neg.
What they should have done - and a lot of companies do this these days, possibly from lessons learned from the MGM fire - is they'll have two vaults, in two different physical locations.
That way if one is lost the other still exists.
BBC Enterprises retained the 16mm negatives after the BBC engineering department had wiped the original quad master tapes, but after five years the rights to resell had expired, and so if there was no further use for the prints then they were junked.
There was some belief that Enterprises only ever had copies
of films, and that other versions were still in existence elsewhere at the BBC. It's highly frustrating that there was no global system to keep track of all the episodes; although at the time the Dr Who production office only cared about the upcoming season, and not of episodes past.