Paramount Pictures has slammed the brakes on plans by independent producers to mount a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic Christmas tale “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The studio said that Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. have not obtained the sequel rights to the movie, which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
“No project relating to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ can proceed without a license from Paramount,” a Par spokesman said. “To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights.”
But producer Bob Farnsworth told Variety that the producers have a “clear” claim to the sequel rights and expressed optimism that any dispute can be resolved amicably.
RKO Pictures released the movie in 1946. Paramount owns the copyright due to its 1998 acquisition of Spelling Entertainment and its Republic Pictures subsidiary, which had been the owner of the rights to the original 1939 story “The Greatest Gift.”
The sequel, titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” is being financed by Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners, who would also produce along with Farnsworth of Hummingbird.
“We have spent a lot of time, money and research that leads us to believe that we are clear on any infractions of the copyright,” Farnsworth said. “If anyone feels that have a legal claim, we will be happy to talk with them. I believe that whatever resolution needs to be made will be made amicably, in the positive spirit of the project.”
Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter in the original, has agreed to return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikable grandson (also named George Bailey) how the world would be if he had he never been born.