It was back in 2003 when Billy Bob Thornton starred in Bad Santa. Since then the film has become something of a holiday classic among those who have a slightly twisted view of the term holiday classic. There has been talk of a sequel to the hit film for some time, but now it looks like that talk is very close to being a reality. Bad Santa 2 is ready to go into production and is targeting a 2016 holiday release.

Variety is reporting that Thornton is on board and principal photography is set to begin in January. A sequel has been on the radar screen for years but it has never quite made it. Last year, Thornton said they were waiting on a final script. Of course, that’s what he said back in 2012, as well. The long road and apparent delays are such that we may plan to hold our breath until the film actually begins shooting before we’re entirely convinced that this is going to happen. Still, it’s never come this close before. An actual date to start filming makes this look like the real deal. The only other question is whether any of the other supporting cast of the original will be on board. We can only hope.

The original Bad Santa starred Billy Bob Thornton as Willie Stokes, your everyday mall santa /thief. It was a hit with audiences, grossing $60 million at the U.S. box office. Many critics didn’t care for its unapologetic vulgarity, though that’s also what endeared it to most audiences. Where exactly a sequel would go is an interesting question, but not really an important one. The sequel will involve Billy Bob Thornton being crude, and that’s what fans want to see. Thornton himself has previously had no illusions about what a sequel would be, saying that the goal was to get "as close as you can" to the quality of the original. Capturing that lightning in a bottle a second time is unlikely. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun while you try.

Thornton has recently been taking some time away from the big screen to stretch his legs on the small one. He was in the first season of FX’s Fargo and is currently attached to David E. Kelley’s The Trial for Amazon. He also did a guest spot on The Big Bang Theory last season because his mom likes the show. It has not been reported how his mother feels about Bad Santa.

It looks like we’re finally going to get the return of Willie Stokes. This is not the Christmas movie we need, but hopefully it will be the one we deserve. Is the original Bad Santa on your yearly holiday viewing list?

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