Background of Christmas Movies

Emma Prichard

Christmas movies are one of the best things about this time of year! Let’s take a deeper look into some of the most popular Christmas movies and how they started

The Grinch started out as a book by Dr Suess, written in 1957. It was the first Dr Suess book to be a full-length film. In a 1957 interview, Suess stated, ”Something had gone wrong with Christmas, I realized, or more likely with me. So I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.” Nine years after How the Grinch Stole Christmas hit bookshelves, a Warner Bros cartoon director adapted the book into an animated film. Dr Suess, who was “anti Hollywood”, was skeptical of the production. One thing that might surprise you is that the Grinch wasn’t originally green!  In the book the illustrations of the grinch were almost completely black and white, and the idea for making the grinch green didn’t have to do with Christmas colors. The cartoon director colored him green after the funny coincidence that his rental cars always ended up to be green. In 2000 a live action film was made starring Jim Carrey, and a new 3D computer animated version narrated by Pharrel Williams. The Grinch will always be a classic Christmas movie loved by children and adults!

  Home alone, written by John Hughes, became a huge hit in the 1990’s and is still enjoyed today. Home Alone starred Mcaulay Culkin, who had been in a previous film of Hughes’s, Uncle Buck. The director insisted on auditioning hundreds of kids, although Hughes knew Mcaulay would be perfect for the role, and he got it! When Home Alone came out, Mcaulay was just “that kid from uncle buck”, But once the movie was a hit, Mcaulay became famous! He was paid 100,000 for his role in the first movie, which is a lot of money to a kid but not in Hollywood. For the sequel however, Mcaulay was paid 4.5 million dollars! That was a record breaking amount for a child performer.  Mcaulay’s younger brother Kieran even made an appearance in Home Alone: he plays Kevin’s cousin in the first Home Alone. Home Alone 3 was supposed to be about Kevin Mcallister, but Mcaulay Culkin refused to return for the third movie. The 3rd movie had a new main character, Alex. The storyline was based upon criminals who wanted to steal a computer chip out of Alex’s toy car. Needless to say, Home Alone 3 cannot compare to the success of the first 2 movies.

National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation”  is the Christmas movie in the series of National Lampoon movies. It was one of the only 2 Christmas movies  that were released in 1989. Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, a husband and dad who tries his best to make sure his crazy family has a good Christmas. The film was directed by Jeremiah Chechik, who was previously a fashion photographer for Vogue then got into commercial directing. The film had a $27 million dollar budget, which is a huge budget for a comedy. In the previous Vacation movies, the Griswold’s son Rusty was older than their daughter audrey. But in Christmas vacation the actors were replaced and Rusty is younger. With Clark Griswold trying to make the holidays perfect for his family with a humongous tree, the biggest and best Christmas lights on the block,  and trying to get a pay raise, Christmas vacation will give you lots of laughs!

Elf, written by  David Berenbaum and directed by  Jon Favreau was released in 2003. Will Ferrel stars as an Elf from the North pole happily wandering through New York City in search of his father. The movie was an almost immediate success, totaling over 220 million dollars worldwide with a movie budget of only 33 million dollars! It became a broadway musical as well. The movie didn’t have much music until Zooey Deschanel was casted as Jovie. Music wasn’t in the original script, but thanks to Zooey’s music talent they added lots more music.  Elf wasn’t the first movie based on a “childlike hero lost in the big city.” Buddy’s journey was inspired by the Tom Hanks movie Big. Ferrel confirmed that the movie was a big inspiration with the making of Elf. Fun fact: Buddy’s singing in Santaland was entirely improvised! Also, buddy’s adventures around the city like running through traffic, finding the coffee shop, and eating subway gum were last minute ideas. The director, Favreau, took Ferrel along with cameramen around the city and had Ferrel improvise his character in the different city situations. Have you ever wondered about a second Elf movie? Well, Will Ferrel turned down 29 million dollars when he declined the offer to make Elf 2. I think Elf is a classic Christmas comedy and it doesn’t need a second movie in order to shine!

Now you know some things you didnt before about thesde classic holiday movies. When you are watching them think of how much work and detail went into them!