In the Pantheon of Bad Sequels, Where Does ‘Bad Santa 2’ Rank?

It’s been over a decade since Billy Bob Thornton last put on a Santa suit and swore at children for our yuletide entertainment. But now, thirteen years (and Bad Moms, Teachers and Grandpas) later, the cult favourite is back for Bad Santa 2. And if you think that’s too long to go between sequels, well, clearly you don’t run a movie studio.

Because if history is any indication, there’s no such thing as a “Best Before” date when it comes to making a potential sequel. Whether anyone’s actually asking for one or not. In 2016 alone, we’ve already gotten long-delayed sequels in Zoolander 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, Finding Dory, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and – no joke – a direct-to-DVD Kindergarten Cop 2 (starring Dolph Lundgren, because, sure, why not). Now we’re hearing we’re going to get a second Wedding Crashers movie soon too. Because really, what else have Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson got going on?

Problem is, the longer the wait, the less likely these sequels are actually, you know, good. So we’ve developed a patented (and very scientific) points system to help Hollywood determine when it’s actually worth dusting off old cult classics for a new sequel and when they’re better off left on the shelf.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Years Between Movies: 9
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 4
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 100%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: 50/50

Anchorman 2 was the rare comedy sequel to return 100% of the original’s cast — Baxter included (+10 points) — and its director Adam McKay (+5), and most importantly, to actually have something new to add to the Legend of Ron Burgundy, by satirizing the birth of 24-hour news networks (+5). It’s definitely not as quotable as the original (-5), but hell, just being watchable (+2) is enough to make Anchorman 2 pretty much the gold standard for long-delayed sequels to comedy cult classics.

Total Points: 17

Dumb and Dumber To

Years Between Movies: 20
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 17
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 100%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Doubtful

After a bizarre 2003 prequel that no one asked for, or watched, predictably flopped (-5 points), studio executives forged ahead with a slightly more intelligent idea: making a Dumb and Dumber sequel with the actual stars this time. They successfully managed to bring back both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels (+10), the Farrelly Brothers to direct (+5), the original screenwriter (+2), and that iconic Mutt Cutts van (+1). And maybe it wasn’t so stupid after all. Dumb and Dumberer To might have gotten savaged by critics (-5), but the novelty of Harry and Lloyd’s 20 year reunion tour still made enough money to become a moderate hit (+5).

Total Points: 13

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Years Between Movies: 23
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 20
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 33%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Slim to none

It took over two decades of convincing, but Oliver Stone finally returned to make a sequel to his classic economic cautionary tale (+5 points). Mostly because over 20 years later, nothing had really changed: Wall Street was still greedy AF. Still, using the 2008 financial crisis as a backdrop made the long-delayed sequel surprisingly timely (+10). Even if it wasn’t actually, you know, any good (-5). Out of the original cast, only Michael Douglas returned to reprise his iconic role as Gordon Gekko (-5). (Context: in the late 2000s, Charlie Sheen was an even riskier financial bet than a subprime mortgage.) But while the original Wall Street won Douglas an Oscar the first time around, the sequel was only good for a Golden Globe nomination (-2). That’s what we’d call diminishing returns.

Total Points: 3

Tron: Legacy

Years Between Movies: 28
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 23
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 50%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Not looking good

When Tron first came out in 1982, it was a moderate success, a goofy family-friendly adventure about video games (futuristic!) with impressive special effects. But then gamers went and made it a cult classic (+5 points), which meant Disney couldn’t help trying to turn it into a blockbuster franchise. And once again, the new Tron boasted groundbreaking special effects (including a creepy de-aged Jeff Bridges, +5) and only a mediocre plot (-3). The studio had high hopes for a whole new trilogy, with multiple sequels planned. But when Legacy barely managed to make back its massive $170 million dollar budget, they all got scrapped (-5). Although we guess it could still come back in another 30 years. You know, when super-intelligent AI takes over the world. Or at least, Hollywood.

Total Points: 2

Clerks II

Years Between Movies: 12
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 5
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 100%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Maybe in another 12 years

The famously low-budget convenience store comedy launched Kevin Smith’s career and his View Askew empire back in 1994, and it seems like Smith’s been trying to turn the indie cult hit into a multimedia franchise ever since. After a decade of false starts (-5 points), he finally succeeded, bringing back stars Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson (+10). Who, to be fair, hadn’t been up to much other than sitting around waiting for Clerk II to get made (-5). But honestly, the movie wasn’t half bad (+5). Which means now Smith gets to talk shit on his podcast about making Clerks III for another 10+ years (-5). Lucky us.

Total Points: 0

Independence Day: Resurgence

Years Between Movies: 20
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 6
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 40%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: About the same as finding intelligent life

There was only one question anyone ever asked about a potential Independence Day sequel: is Will Smith coming back? And, spoiler alert, Will Smith did not come back (-10 points). But Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman did! (+4) Excited yet, millennials? What if we told you Judd Hirsch also returns as Goldblum’s crotchety dad (+1)? No? And sure, director/professional landmark killer Roland Emmerich was back behind the camera (+5), with a whole bunch of new famous buildings to destroy (+3), but he also effectively blew up the would-be franchise. Before Resurgence came out, Emmerich said they could do a third one depending on how the sequel did. Then the movie didn’t even earn back its $165 million budget (-10). So in other words, ID3 probably isn’t happening. Not unless Will Smith returns to save the day.

Total Points: -7

Bad Santa 2

Years Between Movies: 13
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 6
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 75%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Probably not

Director Terry Zwigoff declined to return (-5 points), as did writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (-2), but Bad Santa 2 still managed to get its most important name to come back: Brett Kelly, AKA Thurman Merman, now all grown up. Oh, and Billy Bob Thornton too (+7). Even though for some reason, the new writers bizarrely changed his character’s name from Willie Stokes to Willie Soke (-10). And that’s about the only new addition the sequel has to add to the would-be anti-Christmas franchise (-5). Unless you count a new love interest (enjoy the paycheck, Christina Hendricks) and some “fresh” off-colour jokes. Still, making a hard-R holiday movie is a tough thing to do once, let alone twice. So if nothing else, Bad Santa 2 gets degree of difficulty points for the attempt (+3).

Total Points: -12

Zoolander 2

Years Between Movies: 15
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 7
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 75%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: One in a million

It might be hard to remember right now, but one day in the not-so-distant past, a new Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson movie was actually a big deal. In 2016? Yeah, not so much. Blame Starsky and Hutch for why it took 15 years for Stiller’s fashion industry satire to get a sequel (-3 points), but by the time it finally happened, the moment had passed. Stiller killed off Derek’s love interest for the sequel (-3, that’s his real-life wife), but otherwise brought the entire main cast of the first movie back (+7). Billy Zane included (+3). Still, it was too little, too late. The final tally? A 41% drop on Rotten Tomatoes (-3), half the box office take of the first movie (-5) and exactly one award nomination (+1). …From the Teen Choice Awards (-15).

Total Points: -18

Basic Instinct 2

Years Between Movies: 14
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 5
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 50%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Nope

The original Basic Instinct was nominated for two Oscars, made Sharon Stone a household name, and features probably the most famous leg cross in human history (+5 points). So it’s no wonder talk of sequel started shortly after the first movie came out (+5). By the time it finally got made though, Michael Douglas had dropped out (-5). Director Paul Verhoeven didn’t return either (-5), and even worse, he publicly trashed the movie in the press (-15). Then again, so did everyone else: Basic Instinct 2 ended up as one of the worst-reviewed films of 2006 (-5), killing any hopes of doing another sequel, as plans for a third movie were scrapped as soon as the movie tanked at the box office (-10).

Total Points: -30

Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser

Years Between Movies: 14
Years It Took to Start Talking About a Sequel: 12
Percentage of Main Cast that Returned: 100%
Chances They’ll Do Another Sequel: Zero

But if you’re looking for the ultimate “who asked for this?” sequel, that’d be Joe Dirt 2, a movie so bad The AV Club summed it up best, saying, “The only thing funny about Joe Dirt 2 is that it exists” (-5). It’s still unclear why anyone thought it would be a good idea to make a follow-up to a movie that’s basically “David Spade wears a mullet,” especially since the first one barely made any money (-5) and was met with mediocre-to-bad reviews (-5). But after years of basic cable runs kept it in the public eye (+3), and at the urging of Dana White and Kid Rock (-25), a 50-year-old Spade brought the white trash hero back for a direct-to-Crackle sequel. And it actually didn’t do half bad either (+5). Score one for Kid Rock, I guess.

Total Points: -32