Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Doug Ellin has signed to rewrite and possibly direct Bad Santa 2, the sequel to the 2003 R-rated classic black comedy that starred Billy Bob Thornton in the title role, along with the late Bernic Mac and John Ritter. Ellin rewrites a script by Johnny Rosenthal. The picture resides at Miramax, and Geyer Kosinski is producing it through his Media Talent Group banner. Some things need to fall into place for this one. Ellin, for one, has turned in his script for the movie version of the hit HBO series Entourage and is waiting to see when he will direct it. Ellin has started on Bad Santa 2, though.

Thornton wants to make the film in the fall after he completes London Fields, starring opposite Amber Heard. That Mathew Cullen-directed film is casting, with offers out to actors including Alexander Skarsgard. That film will begin production September 9, with Chris Hanley’s Muse producing with Media Talent, financed by Demarest Films. Bad Santa 2 will follow.

That original Bad Santa has set a high bar. I can still remember in particular the scenes that Thornton played with his close pal Ritter, as the mild-mannered store manager appalled by Santa’s misdeeds. Or Thornton as he grows into the role of reluctant protector of that latchkey kid, particularly after he gets picked on by a pack of bullies. While the R-rated comedy business is currently thriving, that film, directed by Terry Zwigoff and scripted by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, was unusually un-PC for its time. Ellin is repped by CAA.