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Old 12-12-2015, 11:19 PM
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When did Christmas Day movies become "big"?


This Christmas, a lot of people are going to the movies and Hollywood is taking advantage. When did going to the movies on Christmas Day become a big thing among the public? And what were the first movies to open or go wide release on Christmas Day?
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:25 PM
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Growing up in the 1980s I remember it as something to do when everything else was closed - don't recall if big releases were tied to the day or not.

Last edited by zombywoof; 12-12-2015 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:54 PM
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I remember going in the late 60s with my brother on Christmas evening. It was crowded, too. I think my parents were happy to get us out of the house.
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Old 12-13-2015, 04:51 PM
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To be eligible for the Academy Awards a movie has to be a) released to the general public in Los Angeles County b) for at least seven days c) between January 1 and December 31 of a given year.

Here's all the rules (warning: pdf)

Coincidentally, that means a studio has to open a picture no later than December 25 to be eligible award-eligible. There are probably tax advantages to releasing by December 31, as well.

That means there's always new product late in December to pull us in, and what better time than Christmas Day, when we're all off work and dying to get away from out families.

Some older movies that opened on Christmas include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sting, and what may have been the one that started it all, with no Oscar pretenses, but was just supposed to make money, The Road To Rio, with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in 1947.
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Old 12-13-2015, 05:17 PM
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I had never heard of it back in the late '80's when a bunch of kids from my high school all went out to see something (maybe it was Wall Street?). They all said it was something everyone did on Christmas, but my parents had other ideas. Movies, or anything outside the house away from the family, was and still is an abomination.
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:46 PM
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For a long time, Christmas has been a major time of year for Hollywood's tentpole releases and Oscar bait films. It predates the rise of the summer blockbuster season by at least several decades since, up until the mid 70s, Hollywood used to write off the summer months.

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Originally Posted by Pai325
I remember going in the late 60s with my brother on Christmas evening. It was crowded, too. I think my parents were happy to get us out of the house.
Even though I was very young at the time, I remember this too. Theaters were closed on Christmas Eve but open Christmas afternoon.
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:04 PM
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"Write off" or "figure they could show any crap in the summer because the theaters were air conditioned?"
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:15 PM
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James Whale's Frankenstein was a Christmas release, so it goes back at least to 1931.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:13 PM
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To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was a Christmas day release.
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Old 12-14-2015, 02:17 AM
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Quote:
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"Write off" or "figure they could show any crap in the summer because the theaters were air conditioned?"
Probably a little bit of both (excpet in the case of drive-ins). Until the release of Jaws in 1975, the conventional wisdom in Hollywood was people were too busy going on vacation, going to baseball games, and doing outdoor things then going to the movies so they rarely released highly-anticipated big-budget fare during the summer. Also, movie release practices used to be different. Instead of opening on thousands of screensy at once like they do now, movies would often only open on a few screens in a few big cities and then wend their way across the US over the next few months.
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:39 AM
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What did it cost to print and distribute all of those many prints of a film? I'm assuming the cost was substantial, and that was why the movies wouldn't open at the same time everywhere, Instead, they could ship prints from the big cities to the mid-sized cities and eventually to the small towns and the second-run theaters.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 12-14-2015 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 12-14-2015, 09:41 AM
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The "hit-and-run" policy ensures that even crappy pictures will generate appreciable revenue by saturating the market with them. Word-of-mouth guarantees that attendance will plummet within days, and they'll vanish forever (or wind up in the video bin at Walmart), so it's best to get them out of the way ASAP while wringing every possible penny out of them.

The most notorious example of this I can think of was Belushi and Aykroyd's Neighbors, released for Christmas back in 1981.

Last edited by terentii; 12-14-2015 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 12-14-2015, 10:19 AM
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When I was in high school and college (late 1980s), I had some friends that worked at movie theaters. They typically worked Christmas day, and it was always a busy evening.

All my life, I have known families that had a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas afternoon/evening. It was never tons and tons of people, but a significant amount nonetheless. Keep in mind that in some families, the big get-together is on Christmas Eve. Santa will come Christmas morning, but after that the day is totally free for some families.
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Old 12-14-2015, 12:59 PM
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I've been going to the movies on Christmas Day for as long as I can remember. I'm not Jewish, but I've always assumed it was a big day for them to go the movies too.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:49 PM
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Others have already pointed out stuff much older, but the first time I remember a movie opening on Christmas was Godfather 3. No, I didn't go see it, I've never been to the movies on Christmas. Also at the time I'd never seen the first two.
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Old 12-14-2015, 07:32 PM
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I would have dragged my p*ssy over 12 miles of broken glass on Christmas Day night to get out of that hell hole of my parents house. I would have gone to see ANY THING , ANYTHING AT ALL, a documentary on animals pooping, or a Star Wars prequel. Anything to get out of that house.
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Old 12-14-2015, 08:39 PM
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I would have dragged my p*ssy over 12 miles of broken glass.
Ew!
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Old 12-15-2015, 09:17 AM
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Ew!
Mr. Sally Barry has said for 30 years, "I would drag my balls over 30 miles of broken glass to avoid ______". I was fitting his little bon mot to fit my own circumstances .
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Old 12-15-2015, 09:53 AM
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Who the heck is Mr. Sally Barry?
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Old 12-15-2015, 10:11 AM
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My family wasn't much into movies anyway, so the idea of a movie on Christmas would never have occurred to my folks.

Fast-forward to the late 90s - my husband and I spent Christmas with his boss and wife, and after dinner, we went to a Star Trek movie that was opening that day. I was amazed at how many people were there (including me - I find the whole Star Trek franchise to be silly.) It was the first and last time I spent any of Christmas in a theater.
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Old 12-15-2015, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
When I was in high school and college (late 1980s), I had some friends that worked at movie theaters. They typically worked Christmas day, and it was always a busy evening.

All my life, I have known families that had a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas afternoon/evening. It was never tons and tons of people, but a significant amount nonetheless. Keep in mind that in some families, the big get-together is on Christmas Eve. Santa will come Christmas morning, but after that the day is totally free for some families.
This. I worked at a theater for several years and Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day were our busiest single days all year. Mobs of people from open to close. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
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Old 12-15-2015, 12:18 PM
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I've often gone to the movies on Christmas Day, from the 1960s on. The theater was always packed to the walls. Maybe you're just now finding out about it.
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Old 12-15-2015, 12:36 PM
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We don't do it, but it's been something I know others have done for years. Funny, though, how no one seems to be outraged about all the poor theater workers who have to work on Christmas day.

Last edited by Rhiannon8404; 12-15-2015 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 12-15-2015, 02:26 PM
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One of the dullest Christmas Days ever for me was 1984 when I (10 years old) got dragged to see Places in the Heart at the downtown 1 screener with my family.

It's something my family still does occasionally on Christmas. I saw The Wolf of Wall Street with my parents on its national release date back in 2013. It was no The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in terms of Christmas-Day wholesomeness.
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Old 12-15-2015, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
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Who the heck is Mr. Sally Barry?
An alias for Mr Salinqmind, one would assume.
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Old 12-15-2015, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terentii View Post
The "hit-and-run" policy ensures that even crappy pictures will generate appreciable revenue by saturating the market with them. Word-of-mouth guarantees that attendance will plummet within days, and they'll vanish forever (or wind up in the video bin at Walmart), so it's best to get them out of the way ASAP while wringing every possible penny out of them.

The most notorious example of this I can think of was Belushi and Aykroyd's Neighbors, released for Christmas back in 1981.
There have been many more since then because it's a common practice. Usually the tip-off is when the studio doesn't make the movie available for reviewers before the release date and/or it's released during a "dump" month.
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Old 12-25-2015, 04:20 PM
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I'm at the theater today to see 2, maybe 3 movies* and the place is packed. I think most people are here to see Star Wars or Daddy's Home (which is playing on 4 screens).

It's odd, Concussion is playing here, I bought my ticket already, but it's not one of the choices on the leaderboard over the box office. I asked the guy selling tickets if it was playing (as per IMDB Showtime listings) is and he said yes. I mentioned that it wasn't listed on the board and he just shrugged.

* I'm also seeing Joy, and depending on how I feel later, might see Star Wars again.
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Old 12-25-2015, 08:08 PM
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It's been awhile since I was in the US for Christmas -- 1993 to be exact -- but the cinemas always seemed busy on that day. Not every family likes to spend Christmas at home.
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Old 12-26-2015, 12:15 AM
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Gowing to movies on Christmas has pretty much been a thing my entire life (I'm 41). As kids we'd spend all day at my grandparents and then when that wound down early evening we'd go home to mom and she'd take us to a movie.

Same for Thanksgiving Day.

Movie theaters were the only thing open.
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