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We’ll just go ahead and rip the bandage off: It’s A Wonderful Life is getting a sequel. And not a made-for-TV Hallmark-Lifetime-ABC Family-style sequel, but an actual feature film that follows up on the 1946 Frank Capra classic, which will focus on George Bailey’s unlikable grandson. Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the original film, will appear in the sequel, taking what sounds like the Clarence role.
Variety says this project is a collaboration from Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods, and it will be titled It’s A Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story. The goal is to get the movie into theaters in time for the 2015 holiday season.
The original film starred Jimmy Stewart as a man who spends his life dreaming of the day he can leave the small town of Bedford Falls and see the world, but life keeps throwing obstacles in his path. Being the good man that he is, he repeatedly sets aside his own goals in order to be there for his friends, his family and the people of Bedford Falls. When it seems like he’s about to lose everything, he considers suicide, which is when an angel named Clarence steps in and shows him what things would be like had he never been born.
From what Variety reports about the sequel, it sounds like The Rest of the Story will flip that twist around on Bailey’s grandson, as Grimes’ character will show him how much better off the world would have been had he never been born. That sounds like it could be kind of depressing in a Ghost-of-Christmas-Yet-To-Come guilt-factor kind of way. Or maybe I’m just having a really hard time practicing my usual optimism here, as a major fan of Capra’s film. On the bright side — I’ll almost always find one — it’s not a remake. And who knows? Maybe the new film will capture some of the magic that made the original movie a beloved holiday classic.
Producer Bob Farnsworth and Martha Bolton wrote the screenplay for the sequel, and Farnsworth’s quoted as saying, "The storyline of the new film retains the spirit of the original – every life is important as long as you have friends." That sounds somewhat similar to Clarence’s parting words to George Bailey, "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."
Casting for the grandson won’t happen until February, and Variety says producers are in talks to bring back some of the original cast members in addition to Grimes. Among the names mentioned were Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy Bailey) and Carol Coombs (Janie Bailey). Bringing Grimes in to play the angel is a nice tie-in to the original movie, in which she played Zuzu, George’s adorable daughter, who caught a cold trying not to crush her prize flower on her way home from school. Part of George’s breakdown involves yelling at Zuzu’s teacher over the ordeal, which leads to George later getting punched in the mouth by the teacher’s husband, causing George’s lip to bleed. It’s a chain of events that leads George to the bridge, and into the care of Clarence. And later, Zuzu’s petals and George’s bleeding lip turn out to be cause for celebration.
Just the other day, we shared the news that NBC has set the dates for their two airings of the classic film. It’s A Wonderful Life will air on NBC December 14 and again on Christmas Eve. And now it looks like we have a sequel to anticipate.