If Robert Zemeckis can’t save the Christmas film, who can?
The director of 2004’s holiday hit “The Polar Express,” which went on to make $180 million worldwide, is having a hard time pushing his new high-tech adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The film, which cost $200 million to make, only took in $30 million its opening weekend, disappointing Disney’s expectations (by comparison, Universal’s 2000 release “The Grinch,” also voiced by Jim Carrey, took in more than $260 million worldwide).
And it’s not like viewers are going to see other festive films; the only other holiday-themed movie being released this season is “Everybody’s Fine.” So what gives? Where is this year’s “Four Christmases?”
“Over the last couple of years, Hollywood has not seen ‘This is Christmas’-type movies win over audiences. And once failure is evident, the knee-jerk is to go another way,” says Richard Laermer, author of “2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade.” (Remember “Fred Claus?” Yeah, neither do we.)
So it seems like the studios are launching the blockbusters instead — films such as “2012,” “Avatar” and “The Princess and the Frog” — this Christmas season to keep audiences happy.
And as it turns out, the studios haven’t lost their holiday spirit — they’re just focusing on a different one. “There is a dearth of holiday films in 2009 because the big trend is the ‘group star movie,’ thanks to the ridiculous success of ‘He’s Just Not That Into You,’” says Laermer. “All the studio eggs are in films like next year’s ‘Valentine’s Day,’ which stars one type of actor for each segment — everyone from the two Taylors [Lautner and Swift, Ashton [Kutcher], Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and Shirley MacLaine.”