Sixty-seven years after Clarence got his wings, a sequel has been announced for It’s a Wonderful Life. Frank Capra’s 1946 movie, in which an idealistic but desperate family man (Jimmy Stewart) imagines his town if he’d never been born, is a beloved holiday classic. Generations have grown up watching George Bailey spend his life helping others, only to find himself suicidal and wanted by the police after a financial calamity at the family’s ol’ savings and loan. To keep him from jumping off a bridge, an angel-in-training named Clarence shows him that all his good deeds haven’t been in vain.
Now, Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions are promising to show what happened after George got his family back and realized he was the “richest man in town.” In a press release for the project, which was first reported by Variety, the filmmakers announced, “Scheduled for release during the 2015* holiday season, the plot of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story will answer the questions: ‘Whatever happened to George Bailey?’ ‘Did Mr. Potter really got away with stealing $8,000?’ and ‘Did George ever get to build those bridges?’”
Though the proposed $30 million sequel still lacks a director, the producers have lined up 73-year old Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu Bailey in the original, to reprise her role – though now she’ll play the angel who has to guide George’s grandson through a similar crisis. The twist: the new George Bailey is unlikeable and Aunt Zuzu shows him how much better the world would be if he’d never been born. The filmmakers are also in discussions with long-retired septuagenarian actors Jimmy Hawkins and Carol Coombs to revisit their Bailey-child characters as well. None of the three actors have been in a major film in decades.
Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird penned the script with Martha Bolton, who used to write for Bob Hope.
“This project allows us the opportunity to play a historical role in the next-generation of one of the greatest movies of all time,” said Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners, which has producing credits that include Rain Man and Road House. “Our new film will continue the classic story of George Bailey and his family for an entirely new generation of moviegoers.”
It’s unclear, though, whether this announcement is anything more than wishful thinking. Paramount currently owns the copyright to the original Capra film and its characters. Schwalb and Farnsworth did not respond to questions asking them to clarify their right to mount such a project.
As for what happened to the $8,000 that Mr. Potter stole, I thought we settled that…
[*Correction: The press release initially said the film was aiming for a 2014 release. In fact, it’s targeted for Christmas 2015.]