No, this article isn't a hoax, nor a postponed April Fools' Day prank along the lines of Screen Rant's Full House sequel article (which ended up being picked up as legitimate news by some major online publications). The following may read as a brilliant satire of Hollywood - with its current obsession with sequel-izing, remaking and re-imagining seemingly every bankable property conceivable being well documented - but thus far, it appears to be a real thing.
Anyway, on that cheery note, let us proceed...
Variety is reporting that Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. are developing a sequel to It's a Wonderful Life, under the title It's a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story. The project is based on a screenplay written by Hummingbird's Bob Farnsworth and Martha Bolton; possibly, the same M. Bolton who penned numerous Bob Hope specials throughout the 1980s and '90s. Here is the site's breakdown of the sequel's plot:
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.
It's a Wonderful Life, of course, is the 1946 film that was co-written and directed by Frank Capra, starring James Stewart as George Bailey: a very compassionate and good-hearted man who reaches a point of frustration and despair (leading him to contemplate suicide), when an angel is sent to Earth in order to show George how meaningful his life truly is. Besides generally being regarded as a Christmas film classic by the masses, the American Film Institute lists It's a Wonderful Life as one of the top 100 American movies ever made.
So... naturally... making a sequel 67 years later is a dicey proposition, to say the least.
Casting is currently underway for the It's a Wonderful Life sequel, though original cast members Jimmy Hawkins (who is 72) and Carol Coombs (78) - who played the other Bailey children in Capra's film, Tommy and Janie - are reportedly in talks to reprise their roles, along with Grimes (73). Interviews with potential directors are currently underway, with the plan to begin shooting in Louisiana on a $25-35 million budget by next year, in order to make a holiday season 2015 release date.
For her part, here is what Grimes has to say about the script:
“The new film will retain the feeling of the original, and it simply must be shared. I’ve probably read close to 20 scripts over the years suggesting a sequel to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ but none of them were any good. The script by Bob Farnsworth and Martha Bolton was wonderful, and I wanted to be involved with his version of the film immediately.”
For the sake of playing devil's advocate, could the latest script for an It's a Wonderful Life followup be as good as Grimes indicated? Well, the track record for belated sequels doesn't exactly bode in its favor, especially with such no-name talent involved behind the camera. Moreover, the premise reads as a rather more cynical retread on the storyline of the original film. Heck, even in A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge was shown to have been of some decent value and importance to the lives of others. (Who is George Bailey's grandson anyway, a lifelong serial killer?)
Oh well, A Christmas Story 2 released straight to DVD last year, so maybe we were due for a second installment of It's a Wonderful Life to go along with it. Best case scenario, the latter defies all expectations and becomes another meaningful examination of spirituality (centered around the winter holidays) in its own right. Worse cast scenario... everyone just pretends that it doesn't exist.
We'll keep you posted on the status of It's a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story as the story develops.