After a series of technical and financial stumbles during the early 1930s, Technicolor rebounded with its new three-color process. Backed by important partnerships with Walt Disney Productions and Selznick International Pictures, color cinematography finally matured from groundbreaking novelty into industry standard. The late 1930s marked a turning point for Technicolor as other major studios began to adopt the process following the commercial success of films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). The year 1939 was Technicolor’s most spectacular yet as classics like Gone With the Wind—the first all-color production to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—and The Wizard of Oz (1935) proved Technicolor and its increasingly popular three-color process were here to stay.
By the early 1940s, every major Hollywood studio was putting the "Technicolor package" to work, and nearly every year set a new record for color footage production. Throughout the decade, filmmakers learned to use color symbolically and expressively, and they experimented with color choices and juxtapositions to explore complex narrative themes. During World War II, Technicolor maintained a strong relationship with the American military, shipping dozens of films overseas to entertain troops. In turn, a number of movies from the era supported the war effort, including This Is the Army (1943) and An American Romance (1944), which relied on Technicolor to boost morale and patriotism. Most popular, however, were the escapist, eye-popping musicals by 20th Century-Fox and M-G-M, including Busby Berkeley’s first film in color, The Gang’s All Here (1943), and the lavish all-star revue film Ziegfeld Follies (1945).
As television gained in popularity in the 1950s, movie studios had to develop new strategies to remain relevant. Widescreen, 3-D, and color films provided an experience that could not be replicated on a small black-and-white television set. By the mid-1950s, more than half of Hollywood films were being shot in color, and the decade's top ten highest grossing films boasted "Color by Technicolor." Throughout the decade, directors continued to stage big-budget extravaganzas like The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), which received the Academy Award for Best Picture. But as competition from other color processes increased, Technicolor struggled to maintain its more expensive three-color photographic system. By 1954, most color films made in the United States were being shot in Eastmancolor or Anscocolor, although many were still printed in Technicolor.