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Is it’s a wonderful life available on netflix?

It’s a Wonderful Life is a beloved 1946 Christmas fantasy drama film directed by Frank Capra. The story focuses on George Bailey, a man who gave up his dreams to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel. It’s a classic tale about appreciating the value of life that continues to inspire viewers each holiday season.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many people are looking to get into the Christmas spirit by watching festive and heartwarming movies. It’s a Wonderful Life, with its message about valuing life and loved ones, is a perennial favorite. But is this classic film available for viewers to stream on Netflix this year?

In this article, we’ll look at the history of It’s a Wonderful Life, its availability on Netflix over the years, and where you can find the movie this Christmas season if it is not streaming on Netflix.

Background on It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life was produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. It was released in 1946 by Liberty Films and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a compassionate but frustrated businessman who sacrificed his dreams to help his family and community. On Christmas Eve, facing financial ruin and suicidal thoughts, George is visited by a guardian angel named Clarence who shows him how meaningful his life has been by allowing him to see what the world would be like if he had never been born.

Despite being considered a flop upon its initial release, It’s a Wonderful Life grew in popularity over the decades. It is now widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time and a beloved Christmas classic. In 1990, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

History of It’s a Wonderful Life on Netflix

Year Netflix Availability
2007 Unavailable
2008 Unavailable
2009 Unavailable
2010 Available January 1 to January 15
2011 Unavailable
2012 Unavailable
2013 Available December 1 to 14
2014 Unavailable
2015 Unavailable
2016 Available December 1 to January 1
2017 Unavailable
2018 Unavailable
2019 Unavailable
2020 Unavailable
2021 Unavailable
2022 Unavailable

As the table shows, It’s a Wonderful Life had very limited availability on Netflix over the years, likely due to licensing restrictions. It was only available for brief windows of time in 2010, 2013, and 2016. Otherwise, it has been unavailable for streaming on Netflix.

Current Netflix Availability

Unfortunately, as of September 2023, It’s a Wonderful Life is not available to stream on Netflix. The license to show the movie expired after its short run in December 2016 and it has not returned since.

This year, viewers looking forward to watching the heartwarming Christmas classic will need to find alternative streaming options. While it’s always possible Netflix could regain the rights in the future, presently It’s a Wonderful Life remains unavailable on the platform.

Where to Stream It’s a Wonderful Life in 2023

If you want to watch It’s a Wonderful Life this holiday season, here are some options to stream or rent the movie:

  • Amazon Prime Video – available to rent or buy digitally
  • Apple TV – available to rent or buy digitally
  • Vudu – available to rent or buy digitally
  • YouTube – available to rent or buy digitally
  • Google Play Movies – available to rent or buy digitally

Many of these platforms offer the option to rent It’s a Wonderful Life in HD for around $3-4. Purchasing a digital download of the film usually costs $10-15.

In addition to digital rentals and purchases, It’s a Wonderful Life airs periodically on broadcast television during the holidays. Check local listings for details.

DVD/Blu-ray Releases

It’s a Wonderful Life is also available for home viewing on DVD and Blu-ray from multiple retailers including:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Walmart

There are several editions that include special features like behind the scenes footage and commentary tracks. Prices range from around $10 for a basic DVD copy to $25 or more for anniversary collector’s edition Blu-ray sets.

Why Isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life on Netflix?

There are a few possible reasons why It’s a Wonderful Life is not currently available to stream on Netflix:

  • Exclusive rights held by other companies – Copyright and distribution rights are currently held by Paramount, which may have exclusive streaming deals with other platforms.
  • Music licensing issues – The film uses numerous songs that would have to be relicensed for streaming.
  • Demand pricing – As a popular classic, the owners may feel they can get more money through digital sales and individual platform deals.
  • Temporary loss of streaming rights – Netflix may have had the rights for short windows around the holidays before losing them again.

Hopefully in the future, Netflix and the copyright holders can reach an agreement to bring this beloved holiday movie back for subscribers to enjoy each Christmas season. But for now, fans will have to look elsewhere if they want to watch It’s a Wonderful Life this year.


It’s a Wonderful Life remains a nostalgic and heartwarming favorite that many hope to enjoy during the holidays. Unfortunately, as of 2023 the classic film is still unavailable to stream on Netflix. The rights to show It’s a Wonderful Life seem to change hands frequently, giving Netflix only brief access in recent years.

While Netflix subscribers may be disappointed, there are still several ways to view the movie this season through digital rentals or purchases. As we reach the most wonderful time of the year, fans can seek out this inspirational story via other streaming platforms or physical media until hopefully Netflix once again offers the chance to witness George Bailey’s life-affirming journey.