Peter Billingsley will reprise his iconic role as Ralphie Parker, the protagonist who dreamed of receiving an Official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle in the 1983 release of “A Christmas Story,” in HBO Max’s upcoming sequel, “A Christmas Story Christmas.”
The movie is set 33 years after the original.
Set in 1973, the film follows a now grown-up Ralphie, who returns to his childhood home on Cleveland Street in Hohman, Indiana, following the death of his Old Man. The struggling writer is hoping to give his two children a Christmas like he remembers as a child. And he hopes to connect with his childhood friends, too.
“Ralphie’s not really where he wants to be in his life but he’s still a dreamer, so he still has these fantasies of what his life could be, where it could go,” Billingsley — now 51 — said in an interview with People magazine. “And then he’s called home with some real responsibilities and burdens.”
In that interview, Billingsley said he was “cognizant” of wanting to “protect” the new movie’s “association to the original.”
“A Christmas Story” has become an iconic part of American culture, airing annually for 24 hours, beginning Christmas Eve, on both TNT and TBS.
Billingsley said many fans consider the original movie “borderline sacred.”
Check out some exclusive photos from the movie here.
Billingsley said the movie is “in many ways, a love letter to the Old Man character” and to Darren McGavin, who portrayed Ralphie’s dad. McGavin died at 83 in 2006.
Fans of the original will see some familiar faces. Ian Petrella will reprise his role as Ralphie’s younger brother Randy. “A Christmas Story Christmas” will also feature returning actors Scott Schwartz (Flick), R.D. Robb (Schwartz) and Zack Ward (Scut Farkus).
Julie Hagerty will assume the role of Mrs. Parker as Melinda Dillon, who portrayed Mrs. Parker in the original, retired from acting in 2007.
Expect to see a spot-on replication of Cleveland Street, too.
“We created 11 structures back there, including the Bumpus house,” Billingsley told People. “We built them from the ground up and really replicated old Cleveland Street.”
“A Christmas Story Christmas” was produced by Billingsley and Vince Vaughn through their Wild West Picture Show Productions company for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.
“A Christmas Story Christmas” will be released Nov. 17 on HBO Max.
The original “A Christmas Story” movie is based on anecdotes in Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.”
“A Christmas Story Christmas” is not the first attempt at a sequel, though it seems to be the most official — or appropriate.
There was the 1994 “It Runs in the Family,” which was later renamed “My Summer Story.” The 2012 release of “A Christmas Story 2” ignores “My Summer Story” and reverts to following in line with “A Christmas Story.”
In what’s sometimes referred to as the “Ralph Parker franchise,” a collection of stories from Shepherd center around Ralphie Parker and his family.
The first of which is the 1976 “The Phantom of the Open Hearth.” It continued with the 1982 release of “The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters,” which is followed by “A Christmas Story” in 1983.
In 1985, “The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski” was released and was followed in 1988 by “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss.”
Of course, there is also “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which was originally released in 2009 and landed on Broadway in 2012.