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Sunday 22 October 2017

Paramount fights Wonderful Life bid

James Stewart starred in It's A Wonderful Life
James Stewart starred in It's A Wonderful Life

Plans to make a follow-up to the classic movie It's A Wonderful Life are facing opposition from the studio that owns the rights to the original film.

A spokeswoman for Paramount Pictures, who own the rights to Frank Capra's 1946 festive heartwarmer, said they would fight a group of producers who are working on a sequel.

The original film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a desperate family man who imagines during Christmas time what his town would be like if he had never been born.

"No project relating to It's A Wonderful Life can proceed without a licence from Paramount," the studio noted in a statement after Star Partners and Hummingbird Productions announced their sequel plans.

"To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights."

Fans of the original expressed their horror when Bob Farnsworth, president of Nashville-based Hummingbird Productions, and Allen J Schwalb, president of Orlando-based Star Partners, unveiled their pitch for It's A Wonderful Life: The Rest Of The Story, a follow-up that would focus on Bailey's unlikeable grandson.

"Maybe George Bailey should have killed himself after all," wrote one blogger.

"I don't know if they have a title yet, but if not, I have a suggestion. I would call it It's A Terrible Idea," joked talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Farnsworth and Schwalb said the film would star Karolyn Grimes, who played Bailey's daughter in the original film, as an angel who comes to the aid of her nephew. They also said they were in talks with other surviving cast members to return. The producers estimated it would cost between 25 and 32 million US dollars to make.

Farnsworth previously told The Hollywood Reporter that the rights to It's A Wonderful Life were in the public domain, but Paramount has controlled the rights for the past 14 years, after it acquired Republic Pictures as part of its purchase of Spelling Entertainment in 1999. Paramount has since licensed the film to NBC.

The proposed idea for a sequel is also not supported by the family of Frank Capra, who died in 1991. His son, Tom Capra said: "If he was still alive, he would have called it ludicrous. Then, I think we would have called his lawyer. Why would you even attempt to make a sequel to such a classic film?"

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