It is almost Christmas time upon us and race to line up our favorite Christmas movies is on. Which one is your favorite Christmas movie? One that you watch every year, or one that sets the tone for the season just like that first cup of eggnog or putting up the Christmas tree? Although there are favorites aplenty, the box office numbers haven’t always lined up with the sentimental Christmas favorites. Check out this informative infographic about the Christmas movies which is arrived just in time. It gives me some ideas about what to see this Christmas.
The 1983 classic, A Christmas Story, is shown repeatedly on TV and often quoted, but its total lifetime gross is just $20.6 million. It made less money than Ernest Saves Christmas!
Interestingly, there is some debate about what’s considered a Christmas movie. Some films that are not considered Christmas movies by data collectors include the sixth-highest-grossing movie, Gremlins (1984), at $153.0 million; the 12th-highest-grossing movie, Die Hard (1988), at $83.0 million; and the 21st-highest-grossing movie, Love Actually (2003), at $59.7 million.
What about the classics? After looking through the list of films, you may have the realization that many of your favorites are actually from before 1980. If you’re looking for It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) or Charlie Brown’s Christmas (1965), then you may be taking an old-fashioned approach to your holiday movie picks.
More than just box office sales, let’s look at which Christmas movies since 1980 made the most money or lost the most money.
Highest Net Profit
Biggest Net Loss
In addition to grossing less in recent years, more Christmas movies have been showing a net loss after box-office sales.
It’s a Wonderful Life: The 1946 film made $3.3 million during its initial run, failing to break even after $3.7 million in costs. The film was shot in a California studio, but Seneca Falls, N.Y., claims to be the inspiration for the small-town setting. It returned from obscurity in the 1980s, going on to be so beloved that an original film poster sold for $15,535. The film was named by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.
Muppet Christmas Carol: It was the first major muppet project after Jim Henson’s death. The puppet for the Ghost of Christmas Past was filmed underwater to create its ethereal, ghostly look before being superimposed onto the set background.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: 100 people worked for 3 years to create the 12 stop-motion moves made for every second of film. Because stop motion is such a time-consuming process, filming began before the script was completed.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Jim Carey’s makeup took 8 hours to apply. No movie since the Wizard of Oz in 1939 had so many characters in heavy makeup. The costume designer looked to 1950s cookbooks as vintage inspiration for the 300 hats in the film.
Love Actually: The airport footage at the beginning and end of the film was of real people greeting each other at Heathrow Airport. The nativity concert was filmed at the Elliott School in Putney, southwest London, which is also where Pierce Brosnan went to school.
Bad Santa: To play a drunk Santa, Billy Bob Thornton got drunk during the filming. The non-traditional representation of Santa ruffled some feathers. Thornton’s reply: “As far as I know, Santa Claus is not in the Bible. I think you guys are talking about Jesus.”
A Christmas Story: The filming budget was $3.2 million. You can visit Ralphie’s house in Cleveland, which is open for tours year-round. In 2004, a San Diego entrepreneur bought the house on eBay for $150,000. A longtime fan of the movie, he watched it frame by frame to draw up the plans for a $240,000 restoration back to the way it was in the film. Although none of the three “leg lamps” that were used during filming have survived, reproductions are available for about $200.
Elf: Walter’s apartment is in the same building as Dana’s apartment in Ghostbusters (located at Central Park West in Manhattan). Will Ferrell’s costume sold for $10,000.
Polar Express: It’s the first all-digital capture film, which got it listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. The conductor references director Robert Zemeckis’ childhood home in Chicago when he says the street address, “11344 Edbrooke.”
Home Alone: A blizzard struck on the second day of shooting, which meant that fake snow had to be created for the rest of the filming. The suburban Chicago house that was used for both interior and exterior scenes sold for $1.58 million in 2012.