Letter From The Editor - Issue 40 - July 2014

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Issue 36
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The Saltwater Wife
by K. C. Norton
Once More to Kitty Hawk
by Greg Kurzawa
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At the Picture Show: Extended Cut

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At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
    by Chris Bellamy

BREAKING: Christmas heroes join forces in multi-franchise cinematic universe

Sources confirm that George Bailey will be back on the big screen - this time with a legendary miser as his new foe

LOS ANGELES - Move over, Marvel. There's a new monster franchise in town.

Eyebrows were raised this week when it was announced that a sequel to the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life was in the works, set to pick up decades after the original left off and follow the presumably inspirational exploits of George Bailey's descendants. As it turns out, however, the sequel is merely the tip of the iceberg, just a small element among much grander plans for the continuation of the Bailey saga. Sources close to IGMS have confirmed that a full reboot is on its way that will open the door for a variety of spinoffs, sequels, prequels and an "exciting expansion" of the Bailey universe.

From visionary director/producer J.J. Abrams, visionary writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and - oh what the hell - executive producer Christopher Nolan comes a "dark, gritty reimagining" of the classic story, because if there's anything a movie about a shattered, suicidal idealist who confronts a world in which he never existed needs, it's a dark and gritty sense of realism.

"We are thrilled to be bringing the time-honored tale of George Bailey to an entire new generation of moviegoers," the visionary Kurtzman said in a statement. "Much like the characters in Bedford Falls made a run on the bank, we believe audiences will be making a run on the box office."

The new version will reimagine George Bailey - a role rumored to be tipped for Channing Tatum or Shia LaBeouf - as a young, down-on-his-luck alcoholic whose life and family have fallen apart ever since he took over the Building and Loan. Now separated from his high-school sweetheart Mary Hatch (Eva Mendes), George puts a double-barreled shotgun to his mouth - a darker, grittier suicide ritual - before being stopped at the last moment by everyone's favorite guardian angel, Clarence (Morgan Freeman).

However, those expecting an entirely faithful remake will be in for a few surprises. Most notably, Mr. Potter - the legendary antagonist from Frank Capra's 1946 original - has been replaced in the villain role by none other than Ebenezer Scrooge, surely one of the proposed remake's most exciting developments.

"This is one of the film's most exciting developments," the visionary Orci confirmed. "Combining It's a Wonderful Life with the legendary antihero of A Christmas Carol not only provides our George Bailey with a more formidable opponent, but opens up a whole host of narrative possibilities for the future of both franchises."

Indeed, the producer revealed that the mashup between the two iconic Christmas stories is merely the first step in what he calls "phase one" of a long-term, multi-platform universe of holiday heroes. Viewers can expect not just a standalone film, but many entries in the continuing adventures of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge.

"Modern audiences expect so much more than did their primitive 1940s predecessors, and we feel we have the obligation to give them exactly what they want: all of their favorite holiday heroes together in one expansive Christmas hero universe -- or yule-niverse, if you will," the visionary Abrams joked. "These two characters are the cornerstones of this effort, and we feel this new, improved, dark and gritty It's a Wonderful Life will kickstart us into the future of holiday filmmaking."

The filmmakers also confirmed the rumors that the studio plans on bringing the likes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman into the mix. "We feel our darker, grittier interpretation of Frosty the Snowman will really connect with today's audiences," Kurtzman said unironically. "Look, he's basically a snowy version of George Bailey, if you just go with it for a second and don't actually think about it. Who better to teach us the meaning of Christmas?"

Kurtzman added that he sees Frosty teaming up with Rudolph for a "dark, gritty buddy movie in the vein of Lethal Weapon or Lethal Weapon 2 or Lethal Weapon 3 or The Last Boy Scout - but, y'know, for kids!"

But first things first. While the two famous animated characters are expected to make cameo appearances in It's a Wonderful Life, they are not expected to take the spotlight in their own film until phase two. For now, the beloved story of George Bailey's downfall and salvation will be front-and-center. Meanwhile, our sources have corroborated the widely circulated rumor that the film will be a jumping-off point for several spinoffs and origin stories of the beloved characters brought to life by Capra and co-writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

The big question now is who will be tasked with the momentous responsibility of bringing this new incarnation to the screen. The answer, according to various reports, is visionary director Zack Snyder, of 300 and Sucker Punch fame.

"This is a timeless story of truth, justice and the American way," Snyder said. "It's that timelessness that has inspired us to make a new one . . . uh, even though the original is timeless. I mean it's not timeless, it's super-old and in black-and-white. But still."

While expressing disappointment that the original film did not feature any fighting between George Bailey and his nemesis - and confirming that his interpretation will remedy that flaw and will include "several fights" between George and Mr. Scrooge - Snyder wants fans of the 1946 classic to rest easy, as he insists he will stay true to the spirit of the original.

"But with more fighting," he said.

"To be honest, I envision my film as being kind of Capra-esque," Snyder added un-self-consciously.

Where will the franchise go from there? Well, loyal fans apparently won't have to wait too long, as production on the various offshoots of the fledgling Baileyverse is expected to ramp up once filming on the Wonderful Life remake is officially underway.

As George's Christmas exploits continue from sequel to sequel, he will eventually join forces with Santa Claus, and over the course of the franchise will even team up with Jesus, played by James Franco - who said that the character will be "like the Nick Fury of our world," confirming that he will, in fact, have a cool eyepatch and leather duster just like Nick Fury.

And that's not all, It's a Wonderful Life fans!

"Did you ever wonder what Clarence did after he got his wings?" the visionary Orci asked. "No? You didn't wonder? Well now you'll wish you had wondered, because we're going to make a bunch of movies about all of his winged adventures."

Orci also added that there will be a prequel chronicling Clarence's early days, leading up to his fateful meeting with a shotgun-wielding George Bailey. In an interesting wrinkle, Orci also revealed that the Clarence Chronicles will be made using performance-capture technology, brought to life by none other than mo-cap visionary Robert Zemeckis.

"Motion capture is the only way to truly bring the character of Clarence to life," mo-cap visionary Robert Zemeckis said. "The technology available to us now allows us to bring more humanity and more emotion to the screen than we ever got from Henry Travers' original performance. Morgan Freeman's CGI Clarence will be the best Clarence - and the best Morgan Freeman - you've ever seen."

Orci and Kurtzman also announced that, in addition to Frosty, Rudolph and Clarence, phase two will also include a new take on the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

"Look, nothing can recreate the classic, original version of The Grinch that Ron Howard and Jim Carrey created and which has been beloved by audiences for years and years and years," Kurtzman said unblinkingly. "But I'll tell you one thing - that Grinch wasn't dark enough, and definitely wasn't gritty enough."

Additional future plans include more Christmas movie mergers, including a combination of Black Christmas and White Christmas ("I'm thinking, like, Black and White Christmas," Kurtzman noted) as well as a Miracle on 34th Street / Bad Santa combo.

When asked whether or not the plan is to eventually combine all the Christmas characters for one giant film, Abrams was predictably cagey, forcing fans to try and read between the lines. "Yes," he answered. "Yes, we will be combining them all into one giant film."

As of press time, there is no confirmation about the rampant speculation that George Bailey will, in fact, be an Avenger.

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