Wow. Just when I thought I had run out of interesting things to write about, they announced a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life.
Yes, really. Some production company really intends to make a sequel to Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic. Not a remake, not a musical version, not a samurai Western. A sequel. Apparently it’s going to be about the grandson of Jimmy Stewart’s character or some such nonsense. Yeah, OK.
How incredibly boneheaded and just plain wrong is this idea? Let me count the ways. It’s a Wonderful Life is, of course, one of the most beloved classic films in the history of cinema. You don’t need me to explain that, I’m sure. Jimmy Stewart’s performance as George Bailey is iconic. It’s one of the very few films that pretty much everyone on Earth knows, even if they’ve never actually sat down and watched it. Ironically, the movie was a huge flop upon its initial release, but over the years it’s become a “holiday classic” due mostly to annual television airings (NBC has had the rights to it for years now).Nearly 70 years later, it’s one of those films that just lives on and on and on…Does anyone honestly think that any sequel can possibly live up to that? Or that any actor can possibly step into Jimmy Stewart’s shoes? Or that, in these cynical times, Hollywood can approach the original film’s sincerely hopeful message? This is a fool’s errand on every possible level. This just shouldn’t be attempted, for many of the same reasons one shouldn’t attempt sequels to classics like Gone With the Wind or Casablanca. These are different times, with different sensibilities. One would have equal luck making sequels to Harold Lloyd’s silent films. Wait, don’t give them any ideas…
I think it’s telling that it’s not one of the major studios who is behind this project, but a production company which has inherited the rights to the project. They claim to have a great script which is in the tradition of the original and blah blah blah. But you know they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think they could make a buck. Come on, what could this possibly be like? What caliber of talent will actually want to take this on? Let’s face it, there really is no equivalent to the spirited optimism of Capra in our A-list directors these days. Maybe Spielberg in his younger years, but surely he wouldn’t be foolish enough to go anywhere near this. Dare we imagine “Michael Bay’s It’s a Wonderful Life?” No, they’ll most likely get some hack or a novice with nothing to lose. And what kind of cast will be interested? I shudder to think. They’ll be lucky to get Paul Walker as George Bailey III.
Does this really need to happen? Can’t they just leave certain movies alone? Once the half-century mark has gone by, and all of the major original cast members have long since passed away, a sequel really shouldn’t be considered. Just stop this. This is the kind of disaster that can be avoided. Film investors, don’t put money in this future train wreck. You will lose your shirts. Oh, and for those of you who say, “well, at least we’ll finally get the answers to all those unanswered questions…”, shut up. We never needed to know what happened after the movie ended. The ending is the ending. That’s it. Just stop it.
The good news is that apparently Paramount owns the rights to the original film and could potentially stop this sequel from getting made. Do the right thing, Paramount. The world doesn’t need this sequel. Stop this madness now.