Some movies are naturals for sequels. For example, “The Avengers,” or “The Hangover.” Others are classics that stand alone in their brilliance, needing no follow-up–”Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca.” I’d say that “Raging Bull,” Martin Scorsese’s masterful portrait of boxer Jake LaMotta fils int the latter category.
The now 91 year old LaMotta disagrees. He’s producing “Raging Bull II,” a follow up to the autobiography that was the source for the first movie. One problem, though–as Deadline reports, MGM, the studio that now controls all the rights related to the first movie wants to put a stop to it and they’ve got a case for it. When LaMotta and his co-writer Peter Savage sold the rights to “Raging Bull” in 1976, they agreed to give the studio the first option on any sequels to the autobiography. When LaMotta sold the rights to his 1986 book to Raging Bull II Productions, he violated that agreement, argues MGM. They also complain that the sequel is associating itself with the first movie and trying to “trade off” on the popularity of the Scorsese film. MGM is demanding that the court stop production.
I don’t think MGM is really upset that they didn’t get the chance to make the sequel, I think this is just their best way to stop the film, which they do genuinely can hurt the reputation of the original. And since MGM does nothing but make remakes, they may also worry that a low budget sequel could damage the potential for a remake. No, I wouldn’t put it past MGM to remake a masterpiece.