Prepare for the return of Willie T. Stokes! Since its release back in 2003, the holiday comedy Bad Santa has developed a sizable cult audience, and, as a result, it looks like a follow up is actually going to happen. Billy Bob Thornton himself has teased that Bad Santa 2 is currently in the early stages of development.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Thornton was recently part of a special Q&A at Loyola Marymount University's School of Film & Television, and revealed that there are indeed plans to make a follow up to the Terry Zwigoff-directed Christmas dark comedy. The actor said that he thoroughly enjoyed crawling into Willie's skin because it allowed him to display his talents in a broad comedy that went out of its way to play for big, crude laughs. When the topic turned to a possible Bad Santa 2, Thornton assured the audience that it was in the works, but also made sure to insist that it’s still a good couple of years away from fruition. As it stands, they are still waiting on a screenplay. Said the actor,
"We’re just waiting for a script. I mean, we’re never going to beat the first one, but you got to get as close as you can. It will do real well, I would imagine. And hopefully we’ll get it off."
It’s quite refreshing to hear Billy Bob Thornton already admit that a possible follow-up won’t get close to the bawdy original. While his comments sound almost defeatist, so many actors try to insist that their sequel will improve upon the first installment that it becomes white noise after a while. That, of course, hardly ever happens. In fact, except for the likes of The Godfather Part II I’m actually struggling to think of a sequel that was truly superior to its predecessor. Come on. I know there are a few that rival the original, but which films have actually surpassed them? Be honest. Maybe Iron Man 3, Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight? But even then, when you think about the fact that we live in the era of the franchise, the return rate is despicably low.
I have hope that Bad Santa 2 could buck this trend, though. Billy Bob Thornton isn’t the sort of actor who will take on a project just to cash a check come the end of production. He will make sure that it’s worthy of the first film, plus he will also be able to generate a couple of laughs that weren’t even in the script just through his timing and skills. Plus, like his Fargo brethren, Steve Buscemi, he’s kind of funny looking too; which is always good for a few laughs. However that doesn’t mean that he will truly be able to elevate a woeful script, and it will now be up to whoever writes the sequel to get it just right.
The sad news here is that Billy Bob Thornton has been talking about a Bad Santa 2 since September 2009, so there are still plenty of reasons to be skeptical that it will ever happen. I still really hope it does, though. Bad Santa was a delightful romp and there was plenty of scope left for a sequel to at least provide a few laughs if not a bunch of them.