Yes, you read the title correctly: Frank Capra’s untouchable 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life is getting a sequel. Lead actor James Stewart is dead, Capra is dead, and the majority of the other cast members are deceased, yet the movie is getting a sequel. And not just a television movie like Home Alone 4, but apparently a proper theatrical sequel, which will bring back a few of the actors who played George Bailey’s children in the original movie. And it’s arriving in 2015, nearly 70 years after It’s a Wonderful Life was released.
It’s entitled It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, and story details suggest this is a story about Zuzu (one of Bailey’s kids), who’s now an angel and is sent from heaven to show one of Bailey’s grandkids what the world would be like if he was never born.
At least it’s not a remake of Capra’s film, but it might as well be, as its storyline is remarkably similar. Does this sequel really need to be made?
The fact that this movie is happening can potentially mean a new era of Hollywood sequels. Sure, we have sequels to movies a few years old, and sometimes a decade or two (Cats and Dogs 2, Anchorman 2, Boondock Saints 2), but nothing like this. If it’s successful, studios will take note, frantically rummaging through their back catalogue to find other classic, much-loved movies which can be sequelised.
What’s next? Miracle on 35th Street? Rear Windows? Text M for Murder? Rebel Still Without a Cause? The African Queen 2? Shane Returns? Casablanca 2? More Blue Velvet? Post-Modern Times?
To be fair, a few sequels to ostensibly untouchable classics have been spearheaded, but for the most part none have reached the end of their production without losing ties to the original movie. For instance, a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid sequel was planned, and it was made, but somewhere along the line it became a standalone movie called Blackthorn. Likewise, Raging Bull 2 reached the filming phase, but studio tensions and looming lawsuits interfered, and now it’s an independent movie called The Bronx Bull.
But if The Rest of the Story actually happens and reaches cinemas, expect more of this stuff. Where will the buck stop?
It’s baffling that this movie is happening, budgeted at between $25 and $35 million. Dozens of unproduced screenplays hit the Black List every year, yet this malarkey gets the green light?
It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t need a sequel. And if The Rest of the Story is actually good and well-received… Actually there’s no point positing that hypothetical. It ain’t happening.
But I am curious to see what the end product will be like.