Occasionally, news about sequels, prequels, and remakes seems to come out of the blue and surprise the entire industry. One such occasion was today, when it was announced that a sequel to the iconic Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life is in the works. Tentatively titled It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, it will star actress Karolyn Grimes who had a brief but memorable role in the 1946 original.
Grimes played Zuzu, the youngest daughter of Mary (Donna Reed) and George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), who recites the iconic line “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” In the new film, Grimes will once again play Zuzu, only now she’s deceased and has become an angel herself. She is brought down to show George Bailey’s grandson, who shares his name, what the world would be like if he had never been born. In a reversal of the original premise, this new George is described as being more like the Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) character of the original – in other words, he’ll be shown that life would be better if he hadn’t been born. It’s an interesting take on the classic.
Surprising as this news is, the real question regarding the mooted Star Partners and Hummingbird production is if they have the rights to use the characters and story. While the film had, notoriously, lapsed copyright for several decades, Paramount Pictures now owns the rights to distribute it. Original writer/director Frank Capra‘s estate has made no comment on the rights or, indeed, as to their opinion on making a sequel 60 years later. Grimes has however come forward to say that she’d “probably read close to twenty scripts over the years suggesting a sequel, but none of them were any good. This script by Bob Farnsworth and Martha Bolton was wonderful, and I wanted to be involved with [it] immediately.”
Farnsworth and Bolton will also produce the film. Additional casting is planned for February of 2014, with a tentative release date of Christmas 2015 currently envisaged.