Paramount, the studio that currently holds the rights to the 1946 classic, said it plans to block the proposed follow-up, which was to be subtitled "The Rest of the Story" and focus on the grandson of Jimmy Stewart's character, George Bailey.
"No project relating to 'It's a Wonderful Life' can proceed without a license from Paramount," the studio said in a statement. "To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights."
Bob Farnsworth, whose Hummingbird Productions is behind the sequel, previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the copyright to the holiday film was under public domain. But the Associated Press reports that while the rights did expire for a period from the 1970s through the early 1990s, Paramount bought the rights in 1999 and has controlled them ever since.
When he announced the sequel earlier this week, Farnsworth said that the film would "[Retain] the spirit of the original," though the concept to have the younger Bailey be shown how much worse he made others' lives -- rather than the original's message that George made everyone's lives better -- sounded a bit suspect, to say the least. Farnsworth admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he expected some backlash for tampering with such a classic film, but he remained optimistic that audiences would come around to the idea.
"Look, no one can make another 'It's a Wonderful Life.' But our story is solid, and we are going in with our eyes open," he told THR Monday. "There is no doubt about it, there will be a ruckus. But I have this motto: All it takes to be a leader is to have a cause you believe in. And the stronger you believe in the cause, the more adversaries you will have. And we strongly believe in this."
Of course, it's going to take a lot more than belief to get past Paramount's legal team. And Farnsworth still hasn't convinced Tom Capra, the son of "It's a Wonderful Life" director Frank Capra. Tom Capra told the Associated Press that his family doesn't support a sequel -- and his late father, who died in 1991, would have been horrified by the prospect.
"If he was still alive, he would have called it ludicrous," Capra said. "Then, I think we would have called his lawyer. Why would you even attempt to make a sequel to such a classic film?"
It seems that Farnsworth and co. won't be getting the opportunity any time soon.
[via The Daily Mail]