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Officially Out Of Ideas, Hollywood Aims For Sequel To 67 Year Old Film

Its A Wonderful Life

Yet another sign that Hollywood is officially out of ideas:

Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. are collaborating on production of a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

The sequel, titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” is being financed by Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners who will also produce along with Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird. The duo are aiming to get the movie into theaters for the 2015 holiday season.

Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter “Zuzu” in the original, will return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how much better off the world would have been had he never been born.

Grimes, of course, bellowed the iconic line “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!” in the original movie, about a troubled family man (Stewart) whose near-suicide on Christmas Eve brings on the intervention of his guardian angel.

Farnsworth and Martha Bolton have written the screenplay.

“The storyline of the new film retains the spirit of the original – every life is important as long as you have friends,” Farnsworth said.

No casting decision for the lead role of Bailey’s grandson will be made until February but producers have also begun discussions with original cast members Jimmy Hawkins, who portrayed Tommy Bailey, and Carol Coombs,who played Janie Bailey, to reprise their roles as well.

The only relevant question is why? There was a time, back during the 80s and early 90s when “It’s A Wonderful Life” was in danger of being filed away with all the other schmaltzy movies that get shown repeatedly during the holidays, largely because it kept being repeated over and over again on television. In the past ten years or so, though, it has generally only shown up once, maybe twice, during the month of December on NBC so it’s still retained some of its originality. And, for all the you can say about the “hokey-ness” of its message, it’s worth remembering that it was nominated for Best Picture, and the great Jimmy Stewart was nominated for Best Actor, in the Academy Awards for films released in 1946.

The idea that there needs to be a sequel after 67 years (or, if it really is released in 2015, 69 years) is beyond me.

Besides, Saturday Night Live already did the definitive sequel:

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Hollywood isn’t out of ideas…the American people have little or no imagination and are incapable of accepting new ideas.
    For more on this see: Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Harley Davidson, McMansions, and the Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Oh my … this creates a potentially classic Hobson’s Choice dilemma.

    If I must watch one of two shows, which one do I select:

    (a) The sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life, or
    (b) The Star Wars Holiday Special?

    Answer: (c) spend time praying for a power outage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. John Burgess says:

    It’s not ideas that are lacking, but the courage to try something different because it might lose money. It’s bet-hedging on the part of investors (or those who attempt to read their minds).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. john personna says:

    First of all, Hollywood is about the art of the deal, not the production of art.

    Second, if anything we have a freshness fetish in our consumption. It is rare for anyone to crack a book or watch a movie from the “dead-zone” between current blockbusters and old classics.

    Remakes and sequels satisfy the demand both for “new” and “classic” in one swoop … in a package you can pitch in the proverbial elevator.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. grumpy realist says:

    Ok, play time! How many examples of great sequels better than the original are there?

    I can only think of two: The Godfather II, and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (which is actually a prequel, but was written after Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro.)

    OK, maybe The Empire Strikes Back. Although I felt it was simply sandwich filler between the first and last movies in the trilogy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. CB says:

    @grumpy realist:

    In my book, Terminator 2 stands as the best action movie ever made, definitely superior to the original. Not exactly high brow, but an important flick nonetheless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    The rights are unencumbered – free. And there’s what’s called “pre-awareness.” I suspect those are the relevant factors along with it being cheap to shoot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Anderson says:

    I was proposing that they title the sequel From Here to Epiphany.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. rudderpedals says:

    @grumpy realist: Another example possibly w/r/t the alien films. IMO Prometheus > Aliens > Alien. But the exceptions prove your rule I believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    I really don’t understand this. Are they out of ideas or out of screen writers? There are literally hundreds of great novels out there that are just begging to be made into movies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Scott O says:

    “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story” wherein we will learn that wealthy bankers are not evil, they are the job creators?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    IMO Prometheus > Aliens > Alien.

    You are absolutely insane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  13. Who, exactly, is their target audience for this film? Folks that are familiar with the original film probably aren’t in the coveted demographics for Hollywood nowadays, so who do they plan on marketing the film to?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. CB says:

    @rudderpedals:

    That was physically painful to read. Lord have mercy on your soul.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Ben says:

    As has already been said. It’s not that Hollywood is out of ideas, far from it. It’s that production companies simply aren’t willing to finance original ideas anymore, because of the risk of loss. They know that this movie, along with every other remake, sequel, prequel and spin-off (and hell, most superhero movies in general) will be bland, crappy, by-the-numbers, pablum that will sell well because that seems to be what the majority of the movie-going public wants; and they will make a good profit, with no chance of losing their shirts. They are pathologically risk-averse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: Toy Story II and III were as good, if not better, than the original (which was pretty great!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Scott says:

    @rudderpedals: I liked Aliens better than Alien, though I think Alien is a better movie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Scott says:

    It’s a Wonderful Life is on the family’s yearly must viewing list along with A Christmas Story, Miracle on 54th Street (the original), Elf, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    @Scott: Yes, and MIB III was the best of the lot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Peter says:

    I’m not sure if this is the main reason for the remake, but It’s a Wonderful Life is a rare example of a famous movie that’s no longer copyrighted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: I’ve gotten into the habit of watching The Muppets’ Christmas Carol rather than the original film version. Absolutely charming. (I especially like Rizzo the Rat.)

    (Who could think that a hand glove puppet could make one cry?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. Dodd says:

    We’re long past the point where saying “Hollywood is officially out of ideas” indicates that the writer is, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Pinky says:

    Scream II is better than the original. And it deserves extra credit for beginning with a discussion about how sequels are inherently inferior films.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. rudderpedals says:

    @Scott: Yes that sounds right. Alien was a better film, Aliens was fun.

    **

    Why the hate for Prometheus?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Bill says:

    I’m all for the sequel being made. The original producers left several unanswered questions or unresolved plot threads. Here they are-

    1 Did Annie ever get married?

    2 Did the donations of the townspeople add up to the missing money or did Sam Wainwright have to kick in the rest?

    3 Did Harry Bailey lose his pilot’s license for flying all the way up to Bedford Falls in a blizzard?

    4 Did Mr. Martini’s business suffer because he bust the jukebox?

    and last but not least

    5 Did anyone ever fix that staircase knob?

    I can’t go to my grave in peace without getting these answers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. Pinky says:

    Also, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise is a better film than the first in the series. I know, the muscial number in the first was superior, and John Goodman’s football coach is a better villain than Ed Lauter’s hotel manager, but still in terms of watchability, you just can’t beat the second movie.

    Ed Lauter
    1938-2013
    RIP

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Scott O says:

    @Peter:
    Not quite.

    “It’s a Wonderful Life entered the public domain by accident. In 1946, when the movie was filmed, U.S. copyright protection lasted 28 years and could be renewed for another 28 years by filing some paperwork and paying a nominal fee. However, Republic Pictures, the original copyright owner and producer of Wonderful Life, neglected to renew the 1946 copyright in 1974. So, the film entered the public domain.”

    That was when all the tiny UHF stations started playing it dozens of times each year.

    “Republic regained control of the lucrative property in 1993 by flexing a new Supreme Court ruling that determined that the holder of a copyright to a story from which a movie was made had certain property rights over the movie itself. “

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    There’s another trend I’ve noticed that I’m still sorting out my feelings about — remaking movies with black casts. (See: The Wiz.) Recently both “Steel Magnolias” and “About Last Night” have done this recently.

    On the one hand, it’s nice that old ideas are getting a freshening. On the other, it makes me wonder if there’s a certain “hand-me-down” element at play, versus the idea that blacks deserve original stories instead of re-colored existing works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Scott O says:

    Greetings Jenos, can you give us any info on the recent emergency meeting of the George Zimmerman fan club? Have they come up with any good talking points yet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  30. Dave Schuler says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The best version of the musical Hello, Dolly I have ever seen, bar none, was the Pearl Bailey/Cab Calloway all-black cast version. Head and shoulders above any other production.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. wr says:

    Um, guys? I hate to harsh the sanctimonious buzz around here in which we each declare our moral superiority over the intellectual bankrupts in Hollywood, but doesn’t anyone know how to use Google?

    Do you have any idea who Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird Productions? According to his website, he’s an “icon in the ad music industry,” having composed music for Pepsi and MacDonalds. And Schwalb? He’s an investor who has put money into movies but is hardly “Hollywood.”

    Come on, guys, most of you are smarter than this. Didn’t the announcement of the casting of the woman who playes Zuzu in the original tip you off to the fact that these aren’t exactly players? Or is it just too much fun to be smug?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. john personna says:

    @wr:

    Wait, you think “Hollywood,” the deal-culture which created Waterworld, Jar Jar Binks, and Transformers, is better than this?

    (This sequel seems harmless enough, and moving it to “grandson distance” from the original is actually respectful. Suitable for any number of cable channels.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. Mike says:

    Sad as it may be, guarantee this movie is a big hit when it’s released Christmas Day 2014.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Scott O: This isn’t a Zimmerman thread. However, I never really was that interested in Zimmerman per se. I was more fascinated by the lynch mob mentality that exploded after the case broke. It was astonishing. There was an initial myth that sprung up — racist white guy shoots defenseless, unarmed black child — and it was astonishing how many lies were created and pushed to keep that narrative going. And no matter how many of those lies were disproven, they didn’t die — instead, they kept multiplying. They were like the Hydra — cut off one lie, two more would grow back.

    One would think that the verdict would have killed it once and for all, but nope. I’d be glad if I never heard his name again, but that ain’t gonna happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Dave Schuler: Good point. And “The Wiz” was also superb.

    I tend to spot patterns, even when there might not be. I saw “Steel Magnolias” for sale on DVD, and a week later saw a display for “About Last Night” in a theater. So maybe that’s just two outliers, and not indicative of a trend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    However, I never really was that interested in Zimmerman per se. I was more fascinated by the lynch mob mentality that exploded after the case broke.

    You are such a pathetic liar. You were ready to give Zimmerman a handie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  37. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    racist white guy shoots defenseless, unarmed black child

    Sadly, that description is more defensible now, than then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. JWH says:

    I’m OK with this but only if:

    1) Michael Bay directs.
    2) Ben Stiller plays George Bailey.
    3) Jim Carrey or Samuel L. Jackson plays Potter.
    4) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Clarence.
    5) Miley Cyrus and at least three Kardashians are featured in starring roles. I am, however, willing to settle for two Kardashians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: You are such a pathetic liar. You were ready to give Zimmerman a handie.

    Homophobic much, mickey?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @JWH: One more condition: it’s filmed on the same location as The Conqueror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Peter says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    An all-black remake of “Hello Dolly” is sort of redundant, as the most memorable thing about the original, by far, was Louis Armstrong’s rendition of the title song.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: I didn’t bring up Zimmerman, and I hope this is the last time I bring it up. Here’s one example of the myth-building in the “hang Zimmerman” movement: one of the authors of this site completely fabricating, out of whole cloth, the notion that Zimmerman chased down Martin with “gun drawn.” And, when challenged as to where that factoid came from, said it was “inconceivable” that Martin didn’t draw his gun before the confrontation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  43. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Peter: Thanks for the reminder. I do a fair-to-middling Armstrong impersonation, and I should add that to my repertoire. It might be easier on my throat than “What A Wonderful World.” What Satchmo did naturally… hurts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Pinky says:

    I like to think that Terminator was a remake of It’s a Wonderful Life, with the robot sent back in time to show future John Connor what the world have been like without him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  45. superdestroyer says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Alien is a haunted house movie. Aliens is a combat movie. If people like combat movies, they will like Aliens better. If people do not like combat movies, they will probably like Alien better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:
  47. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    It will probably fall into the category of the Sting II or the sequal to Gone with the Wind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. JWH says:

    Here’s a thought: How about a remake of Manos: Hands of Fate directed by JJ Abrams?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You’re really rather helpless, aren’t you? Explain exactly why the suggestion that you wanted to give Zimmerman a handie is “homophobic.”

    Come on. It’s fun to watch you squirm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  50. michael reynolds says:

    @JWH:

    I like your casting. Especially Jim Carrey as Potter. Barrymore was a huge ham, so is Carrey.

    “You’re worth more dead than alive! Why don’t you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they’d run you out of town on a rail.” As delivered by Jim Carrey in full-on Ace Ventura mode? I see pelvis-pumping on that final line. I like that a lot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I never really was that interested in Zimmerman per se. I was more fascinated by the lynch mob mentality that exploded after the case broke.

    Really? I was much more interested in (1) the ‘OJ Jury’ that acquitted Zimmerman, and (2) many of the bleeding hearts that cheered his acquittal predicted race riots that never happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  52. grumpy realist says:

    The talk is that Hollywood is terrified of not attracting the magical teen male crowd. (Girls will watch guy movies with their boyfriends, guys won’t watch rom-com movies with their girlfriends, supposedly.) Which means a lot of action, cars flying through the air, and explosions.

    Hmm, this sequel might be more interesting than I originally expected….

    (I do predict a drearily sappy “heart-warming story” with the depth of a sheet of paper. Which will immediately vanish to DVD and never be heard of again. )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @al-Ameda: What I could never grasp is this: if the case against Zimmerman was so rock-solid, why did those calling for his conviction keep making crap up? Why did so many of the elements of the story keep falling apart?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  54. jd says:

    @grumpy realist: Aliens

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Sorry, no. You can’t have Zimmerman as an example of a responsible gun owner, a gun owner protecting his community, a responsible gun owner protecting his community “railroaded” by the liberals … and then say “never mind.”

    The follow-on to this story matters, tremendously.

    What you have now is a documented case of a hot head who armed himself, and used liberal gun laws, and stand your ground laws, to kill an innocent kid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  56. john personna says:

    (But by all means, let’s’ blame the “liberals” more than the “killer.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  57. john personna says:

    Let’s blame liberals more than the gun-crazy conservatives who led Zimmerman, with a framework of law, to that point.

    They (you?) told him it was good to “carry,” it was good to “stand your ground.”

    They (you?) never stopped to think that it might be the hot heads who would be listening, and taking their advice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  58. john personna says:

    Dear idiot downvoter,

    I’ll assume you are as crazy as Zimmerman. You probably are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Tillman says:

    @Scott O: Screw you for derailing what had been a neat thread about movies and sequels into yet another stupid flame war about George Zimmerman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  60. CB says:

    @Tillman:

    You notice how everyone was getting along, too? Can’t be having that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0