Film stars Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster relax on May 19, 1948, in an automobile interior on the set of “Sorry, Wrong Number” in Hollywood.(Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds, dressed for her role in “The Singing Nun” on Nov. 15, 1965.(Associated Press)
Director Ron Howard takes a seat behind the camera during the production of his comedy “Gung Ho” while on location at the Allegheny County Airport near Duquesne, Pa., in August 1985. At right is his father, actor Rance Howard, who has a cameo.(Keith B. Srakocic/Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds enjoys clowning around and winking for the cameraman during the production of the comedy “The Pleasure of His Company,” which also stars Fred Astaire as her father, on May 10, 1961.(Associated Press)
Nothing unites the people of the Internet quite like hatin’ on something together. So the press release Monday afternoon announcing a sequel to the beloved holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was met with the sort of overwhelming derision that really brings people together.
Titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” the sequel was written by Bob Farnsworth and Martha Bolton. Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions are collaborating on the project and, though no director is currently attached, Monday’s announcement declared that the film, with a proposed budget between $25 million and $32 million, was looking to shoot in Louisiana to be ready for the 2015 holiday season.
It was unclear whether there would be issues with the notoriously complicated rights to the original.
Frank Capra’s 1946 film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, director and James Stewart for lead actor. The sequel centers around the unlikable grandson of Stewart’s character George Bailey, also named George Bailey, who learns how much better off the world would be had he never been born, his life forever changed by a visit from an angel.
The project is being made with the participation of actress Karolyn Grimes, who at the age of 6 played the role of Zuzu in the original film and delivered one of its signature lines: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Other surviving actors from the original film are also in talks to be in the sequel, the producers said.
In a statement, Grimes said, “Of course, no one can remake ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ But this new script absolutely provides the answers to the questions everyone’s been asking for so many years.”
Among those responding online to the announcement was L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan, who asked, “Is this film necessary?” The Hollywood Reporter’s awards writer Scott Feinberg declared the idea “a disgrace to Jimmy Stewart’s memory.”
As Vadim Rizov, writing for the Dissolve, uncovered, the project has been lurking about for some time, with an extended pitch video online since the summer of 2012, just waiting to reveal itself. The video trumpets the new film as being “in color and later in 3D.”
Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus