Is Warner Bros. considering ‘Casablanca’ sequel?


When talking about Hollywood reboots, sequels, and remakes, the phrase "os nothing sacred?" gets bandied about by fans and critics quite a bit. Well, in this case of "Return to Casablanca" — a proposed sequel to the 1942 Humphrey Bogart classic "Casablanca" — using that often hyperbolic phrase actually has some meaning.

Word is that Warner Bros. is actually considering the production of a "Casablanca" sequel, some 70 years after the original World War II drama first hit theatres. According to the New York Post, Cass Warner, granddaughter of WB co-founder Harry Warner, owns a script treatment for the sequel written by "Casablanca" co-writer Howard Koch, and she is aggressively pitching the project to the studio. The studio hasn't said yes quite yet, but they allegedly haven't ruled out the possibility, either.

Set in late 1941, the original film told the story American expatriate Rick (Bogart), the owner of a nightclub in the still unoccupied city of Casablanca, Morocco. When his former lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) shows up in town with her resistance member husband, former freedom fighter Rick must decide whether to use his influence to save an old flame or to help a valuable asset in the fight against the Nazis escape.

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The Koch-penned sequel would follow Ilsa and Rick's 20-something son as he searches for his father in war-torn North Africa. The Koch screenplay supposes that Rick joined the Free French Army after the events of "Casblanca," and went missing in action in the fight against German General Erwin Rommel. According to Entertainment Weekly, Warner is interested in the script, but wants a director on board before they consider the project any further.

"For whatever reason they couldn't justify taking interest in it until it was packaged more," Warner said.


This is not the first time that a follow up to the legendary Michael Curtiz film has been considered. The Best Picture winner was enormously popular film at the time, so Warner Bros. almost immediately began plans for a sequel titled "Brazzaville," in reference to one of "Casablanca's" final lines. WB never ended up filming the sequel -- mostly because the original quickly cemented its status as a bona fide classic -- and no other studio really seriously considered until now, either. There have been two failed television series that served as prequels to the film, as well as an unsuccessful prequel novel called "As Time Goes By" by author Michael Walsh. French director Francois Truffaut also reportedly turned down a chance to direct a remake of "Casablanca" in the 1970s because of how admired the original was in the United States.

Given the film's indisputable cinematic legacy and cultural impact, is a sequel even necessary? Just think of all the times you've heard the famous quotes "Here's looking at you, kid," "Play it again, Sam," or "We'll always have Paris," or seen homages to scenes from the film. (Little-known fact: Bogart never says, "Play it again, Sam." The line is actually, "Play it, Sam.") Who would the sequel even be made for? Certainly not for the now elderly fans who may have seen the original in theatres, and not for modern audiences who likely have little to no awareness of the original. No wonder Cass Warner is having difficulty selling the studio on the idea.

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There's obviously another glaring issue with any "Casablanca" sequel: the fact that its stars have been dead for decades, as Bogart died in 1957 and Bergman in 1982. The focus on the Rick and Ilsa's son obviously solves this issue at least partially, but if the original characters aren't even in the film, why bother making it a sequel? If "Return to Casablanca" ever does happen, you can expect to see some sort of Hollywood trickery used to bring Bogey back for a cameo. Heck, it wouldn't be the first time the actor has made a posthumous appearance in something.