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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Bad Santa

'Bad Santa' writers: We're skeptical about sequels

July 25, 2011 |  7:30 pm

"Bad Santa" is one of the more beloved dark comedies out there, and a movie whose sequel gets fans either excited or worried, sometimes both. But how do the people who wrote the original feel about a new edition of the Billy Bob Thornton hit?

Glen Ficarra and John Requa, the "Bad Santa" scribes whose new directorial effort, "Crazy, Stupid, Love," hits theaters Friday, said they believed that those making the sequel faced a tall order.

"I don't think a sequel besmirches the original. I think the hard part is you're up against the original," Requa told 24 Frames, adding, "It'll be hard, but I don't think it's impossible."

Ficarra and Requa spoke early on with producers of the new film about guiding whoever would write the sequel but the two sides couldn't agree on whom to hire. So they parted ways. Instead, producers and studio Dimension Films went on to conduct an elaborate search and ended up hiring two writers, Johnny Rosenthal and John Phillips, to write two separate scripts. Producers will eventually pick one as the basis of the new film.

The "Bad Santa" writers did say that they are generally skeptical of sequels. "It's a thankless job, because you're up against big expectations," Ficarra said. "You can't go in a totally new direction, but if you do an hommage, people think you're ripping off the original."

The original "Bad Santa" ended with Thornton's Willie Stokes essentially getting away with his cons and being hired to work as a sensitivity trainer for the police department. He could, theoretically, go back to knocking over department stores with his miniature sidekick in a new movie.

"But wouldn't it be odd if he was a Santa again?" Ficarra asked, before stopping himself. Requa then jumped in with a fanciful, if ironic, suggestion. "Will Stokes is a great character," he said. "You could do a western. Or maybe 'Bad Santa in Outer Space.' "


'Bad Santa' 2: The sequel so anticipated it gets...two scripts?

'Bad Santa' creators join the police academy

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Bad Santa." Credit: Dimension Films

'Bad Santa 2': The sequel so anticipated it gets ... two scripts?

July 14, 2011 |  5:42 pm

EXCLUSIVE: A "Bad Santa" sequel has been a tantalizing possibility ever since Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) survived a shooting at the hands of the police department and became its sensitivity trainer. Now that sequel has moved closer to fruition.

Producers on the movie and Dimension Films, which is developing a follow-up to the beloved 2003 black comedy with the newly constituted Miramax, have quietly hired writers to begin working on a new film for Thornton to star in, according to a person who was briefed on the project  but was not authorized to talk about it publicly.

And here's the hook: The companies are engaging in the unusual move of  commissioning two different writers, with the idea of choosing between the scripts or even using one script for "Bad Santa 2" and the other script for a third film. (The two writers do know about each other.) A spokeswoman for Dimension Films confirmed the hires and the plans.The movie is being produced by Geyer Koskini,Thornton's manager who produced the original and has been developing the sequel for several years.

The scribes in question are up-and-comers who've yet to have a film produced but who have some heat in Hollywood. One, Johnny Rosenthal, wrote a period adventure called "Iron Jack" that sold to Sony for more than $1 million  in 2009 but has been stuck in development since.

The other, John Phillips, sold an R-rated comedy to Universal a few months back. That project is called "Dirty Grandpa" and is about a "recently widowed, sexually aggressive grandfather," which sounds about as "Bad Santa"-ish as you can get.

Centering on a dysfunctional, thieving mall Santa named Stokes and his dwarf sidekick/accomplice, "Bad Santa" became a sideways Hollywood classic as it followed the pair on their misadventures. (The photo above is of Stokes and the pudgester character "The Kid," played by Brett Kelly, he meets in his travels.)

Phillips and Rosenthal are still formulating their takes, but the new "Santa" would have the advantage of picking up on an ending that offered no real redemption, and thus few sequel obstacles. (It would, however, have to deal with a falling-out between Stokes and Tony Cox's Marcus, the latter of whom ended up in jail at the end of the first movie.)  And any new "Bad Santa" has big shoes to fill in Glenn  Ficarra and John Requa, who wrote the original and aren't involved with this one. (Those two are directors of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" with Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, coming to theaters July 29.) "Bad Santa" director Terry Zwigoff isn't on board at this point either.

 Thornton has told the studios he's eager to come back, and both companies have a stake in making a follow-up happen -- Dimension because it needs franchises; Miramax because it wants to show Hollywood it's serious about making movies after being sold to construction tycoon Ron Tutor. There's even talk internally at Dimension it could be ready for the 2012 holiday season. Now there's a Christmas gift.


'Bad Santa' creators join the police academy

Billy Bob Thornton's Willie Nelson documentary at SXSW

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Bad Santa." Credit: Dimension Films


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