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Top 5 Money Earning Christmas Movies

Updated on June 29, 2013
Tim Allen in The Santa Clause 2
Tim Allen in The Santa Clause 2 | Source

Happy Christmas!

Christmas-themed movies have been around since the beginning of cinema, with versions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol dating back to the dawn of motion pictures. These holiday-centered films are big box office draws and put plenty of cash into Hollywood pockets. Many classic stories have been retold a million times in a million ways, yet they often are huge hits with gigantic paydays.

This list does not contain my personal favorites, but instead it features the top five money-earning Christmas movies between 1980 and June 2013.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Ron Howard’s interpretation of the beloved Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas was released in theaters on November 17, 2000 to an impressive $55 million.  Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman penned the screenplay in which Jim Carrey tackled the role of the Grinch.  This live-action version garnered over $260 million at the box office and won an Academy Award for Best Makeup (Rick Baker, Gail Rowell-Ryan).  Additionally, it received Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Direction (Michael Corenblith, Merideth Boswell) and Best Costume Design (Rita Ryack).  Jim Carrey received recognition at the Golden Globes with a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical.  Unfortunately, the film was also nominated for Razzies for the Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Screenplay.

2. The Polar Express

Polar Express, based on the classic children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, hit theaters on November 10, 2004 and picked up over $23 million its first weekend.  Robert Zemeckis directed and co-wrote the screenplay with William Broyles Jr.  Tom Hanks tackled five roles including Hero Boy, Father, Conductor, Hobo, Scrooge, and Santa Claus, which probably helped the film earn $181 million during its theatrical run.  The film received three nominations at the Academy Awards including Best Original Song for “Believe” (Glen Ballard, Alan Silvestri), Sound Editing (Randy Thom, Dennis Leonard), and Sound Mixing (William B. Kaplan, Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis S. Sands).  The song, “Believe” was also recognized with a nomination for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes.

3. Elf

Elf danced into theaters on November 7, 2003 to a respectable $31 million its first weekend.  Jon Favreau directed and David Berenbaum authored the script for the film, which collected more than $173 million at the box office.  Will Ferrell picked up an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Comedic Performance for his role as Buddy the Elf.

4. The Santa Clause

Tim Allen took a turn at playing everybody’s favorite jolly man in the red suit in The Santa Clause which had a slow start when it was released on November 11, 1994.  Earning $19 million its first weekend, the John Pasquin-directed movie closed out its box office run at over $144 million.  Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick penned the screenplay.  Tim Allen received two MTV Movie Award nominations for Best Breakthrough Performance and Best Comedic Performance. 

5. The Santa Clause 2

Twelve years after the original, The Santa Clause 2 was released on November 1, 2002 and quickly made $29 million the first weekend and $139 overall at the box office.  Michael Lembeck directed Tim Allen as he reprised his role as Scott Calvin/Santa Claus.  Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick received story and character credit while Don Rhymer, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Ed Decter, and John J. Strauss authored the screenplay.  Eric Lloyd picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Young Actor Award at the Young Artist Awards for his portrayal of Charlie Calvin.


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    • Megavitamin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      ruffridyer--haha, that's a great observation! Thanks for stopping by :0)

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      Does anyone else think it is odd that Bernard, the head elf in the Santa Claus was potrayed by a Jewish actor.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      Does anyone else think it is odd that Bernard, the head elf in the Santa Claus was potrayed by a Jewish actor.

    • Megavitamin profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mike--I completely agree with you about the Grinch. The cartoon is a hands-down classic! Unfortunately, it was released before 1980 (and on TV) so it wasn't considered for this list. It's definitely ranked among my favorites!

      Happy Holidays to you, and keep those great hubs comin'!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      I love the holiday season and Christmas movies are a big part of it. I was more a fan of the Grinch cartoon than the movie, but it was well done. And, of course, the Santa Clause movies were very enjoyable. There is a soft spot in my heart for the Polar Express, also.

      Happy holidays to you!


    • Megavitamin profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hey Lynda, "A Christmas Story" ranks at #24, and made $19 million while it was in theaters. It had a much smaller release (886 theaters) than these movies. It is more of a cult classic (definitely a CLASSIC!) than a box office money maker.

      I love it too! Thanks for stopping by :0)

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I see my all-time favorite isn't here -- A Christmas Story, with Ralphie wanting the Red Rider air rifle with the compass in the stock. Thanks for an entertaining read. Lynda


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