Giving the green light to a project that’s been drifting around Hollywood for years, running short cons on mall managers and growing heart-warmingly close to dopey latchkey kids, Variety is reporting that Billy Bob Thornton has officially signed on for Bad Santa 2. Thornton will reprise his role as faux-jolly grifter Willie Soke, presumably taking the role after being assured that it isn’t something anyone would ask Tom Petty to do (since Petty wasn’t in the original Bad Santa, at least as far as we know.)
Although Bad Santa 2 has nailed down its grouchy, Grinchy star, there’s still work to do in terms of securing behind-the-camera talent. Miramax and Broad Green Pictures haven’t announced a director for the film yet, although both Hot Tub Time Machine’s Steve Pink and Doug Ellin from the Entourage movie have been attached to the project in the past. (Both men were also tapped to re-write the script, presumably to stuff more jokes about hard-drinking little people into the margins of the film.)
The 2003 original—which co-starred Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, and the late John Ritter—has proven itself a surprising addition to the Christmas movie canon; as such, the new film is going to be facing much higher expectations than a sequel to a low-budget comedy about a drunken mall Santa might expect to have to surmount. In any case, we’ll see if the movie can live up to its very specialized Yuletide hype when it gets released, some time during the holiday season next year.