'Movie Studios to Santa: Drop Dead'

“Is Hollywood mounting a war on Christmas,” the L.A. Times asks, along the way, supplying the headline above:

It’s hard to know how much is cultural, how much is financial and how much is cyclical. But whatever the reason, there isn’t a single Christmas movie on studios’ calendar this December.

There are, of course, a number of movies meant to appeal to family audiences: the Jack Black adaptation of “Gulliver’s Travels,” the latest “Chronicles of Narnia” installment, a “Tron” sequel. But movies having to do with snow, reindeer, Santa or anything else holiday are nowhere to be found. There isn’t even a darkly comic anti-Christmas movie, like a “Bad Santa” or “Christmas with the Kranks.” (The lone Christmas release of any kind, Elle Fanning’s “Nutcracker in 3-D,” wasn’t released by a studio and is a holiday turkey; about seven people have seen it since it came out two weeks ago.)

Things don’t change much next year, either. There’s only one major holiday release scheduled for 2011, the animated movie “Arthur Christmas” — and that comes from the U.K.

As my colleague Dawn Chmielewski and I explore in a story in Tuesday’s Times, there are plenty of explanations for the trend. Studios don’t usually take sides in culture-wars debates. They do, however, pay attention to the shifting winds. And as Joe Roth, the former Disney executive who once shepherded holiday hits like “Home Alone” and “Santa Clause,” says, holiday pictures just aren’t where the creative or monetary Zeitgeist is circa 2010.


I can certainly understand the movie studios attempting to place their index finger into the air and attempt to ascertain a sense of the direction the zeitgeist is blowing in before putting a figure north or south of $100 million on the line. But does anyone outside of the L.A. Times’ main demographic actually believe for a moment that “Studios don’t usually take sides in culture-wars debates?” Boys, you might want to meet Brent Bozell, Michael Medved, and John Nolte. Get to know each other! Have a drink, talk amongst yourselves.

Besides, maybe the studios didn’t want to risk having their Christmas movie Godwinned by the Gray Lady this year.


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