By Dave McNary
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 producers are interviewing potential directors and plan to shoot the majority of the film in Louisiana. The sequel will have a budget in the $25 million to $35 million range.
“The new film will retain the feeling of the original, and it simply must be shared,” Grimes said. “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.”
Star Partners is the managing member of the slate portfolio Star Partners 8 LLC, a $100 million offering. Previously Star Partners funded seven slates of films, dating back to the 1980s including “The Right Stuff,” “The Killing Fields,” “The Color Purple,” “The Mission,” “Moonstruck,” and “Rain Man.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture but lost out to “The Best Years of Our Lives.”