Will There Ever Be A Bad Santa 3? Here's What We Know

The festive season has recovered a little bit of its magic in our household since we've had kids, but overall I've had a total gutful of the whole Christmas thing. Whenever I feel particularly Scrooge-like, I find myself reaching for movies like "Bad Santa." Darker Christmas movies can provide a valuable service during the holidays, reassuring us that it's OK, this time of year can really suck for other people too.

Around 18 years ago now, Terry Zwigoff's gleefully offensive comedy delivered a bulging sack of delicious bad cheer. It stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie T. Soke, an alcoholic sex addict and safe cracker who uses his seasonal work as a department store Santa to rob the place, along with his partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) a bad-tempered dwarf who plays Willie's elf helper each year.

Willie gets a shot at salvation when he encounters Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly), a lonely bullied kid who lives with his senile grandma. Although Thurman is incredibly annoying, he stirs some vestige of paternal instinct in Willie, who puts his suicide attempt on hold to teach the kid how to defend himself. Along with Sue (Lauren Graham), a barmaid sleeping with Willie because she has a kink for guys dressed as Santa, they form an unconventional surrogate family as Christmas approaches. Yet there is still a safe in need of cracking, and the sleazy store detective is blackmailing Willie and Marcus...

Built around Thornton's brilliantly sour performance, "Bad Santa" consistently delivers scandalized laughs while also sneakily mining a feel-good story from these damaged misfits. Along with "Scrooged," "Die Hard" and "Krampus," it's perfect counter-programming as an antidote for the avalanche of schmaltz and commercialism heading our way over the coming weeks...

What Happened With Bad Santa 2?

As he also showed with "Crumb" and "Ghost World," "Bad Santa" director Terry Zwigoff has an affinity for outsiders, and his touch was sorely missed when it came to the belated sequel. It reunited Thornton, Cox and Kelly, while Octavia Spencer also returned as Opal, the long-suffering prostitute. There was no John Ritter or Bernie Mac, who both passed away. Lauren Graham, who gave the first film a lot of warmth, and Lauren Tom, who played Marcus' greedy wife, also didn't reprise their roles. The big incoming casting change was Kathy Bates, playing Willie's foul-mouthed mother, Sunny.

The film picked up 13 years later with Willie on the skids again. He's visited by Thurman, who is now 21. His father abandoned him and his granny died, making Willie the closest thing he has to family.

Willie receives a wedge of cash from Marcus, who is out of jail and lining up another job in Chicago. It turns out that the target is a charity and Marcus's contact is Willie's estranged mum. Naturally, the heist involves Willie and Marcus dressing up as Santa and Elf, and the usual off-color shenanigans ensue as they plan their heist, get into various scrapes, and try to help Thurman lose his virginity.

"Bad Santa 2" rehashes the same jokes, but no one looks like they're enjoying themselves this time around. It lacks the bite of the original, falling into the same trap as "Dirty Grandpa" from earlier in 2016. The screenwriters seem to think that vulgarity is funny in its own right, without emulating the genuine compassion that made Zwigoff's film such an unexpected heart-warmer.

"Bad Santa 2" was generally battered by critics and audiences stayed away in droves, resulting in the film failing to make back its $26 million budget.

Will There Be a Bad Santa 3?

After the disaster that was "Bad Santa 2," some people apparently want to see a third installment. There was talk about completing the trilogy back in 2016, before the second part bombed at the box office.

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Thornton joked that "if they ever do another one" he and Cox had put in a request that it be filmed in Hawaii or Vegas after a very cold shoot in Canada.

Thornton also showed enthusiasm for a third movie in a later article for EW, although he said we probably wouldn't appear in a third film if there was a similar lengthy gap before the next installment.

Now 67, Thornton's quip about the next one being called "Bad Nursing Home" is looking increasingly apt. The actor has been notably quieter on the subject since the second film's release, and the bad box office and general stench of "Bad Santa 2" appears to have killed off any prospect of a third movie.

Even still, an article will emerge every now and then about the possibility of a "Bad Santa 3." In 2019, The Cinemaholic raised the idea again, discussing the direction a threequel might take. It was pure speculation, but it seems people out there are genuinely still wishing for a "Bad Santa 3" for Christmas. Another article dropped just yesterday on Looper, reasoning that it's a shame to leave the series on such a bum note after the first movie was so great.

For now, the prospect of "Bad Santa 3" looks deader than Jacob Marley. I for one will be forgetting "Bad Santa 2" ever existed and enjoying the original again this festive season, probably with a little scotch when the whole Christmas thing gets a bit too much.