Festive Facts About Your Favorite Holiday Movies

December marks that time of year when you and your friends and family gather together. You’re either catching up, drinking Egg Nog, or indulging in hours of classic Christmas films. Of course, all of the movies that are associated with the most wonderful time of the year set a high bar for the holiday season.

No matter what your favorite Christmas movie is, you’ll be impressed with how some of these films actually made changes without people realizing it.

It’s A Wonderful Life Was A Box Office Bomb

RKO Radio Pictures/MovieStillsDb
RKO Radio Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Considering it became an all-time classic, Frank Capra’s film earned $3.3 million in box office revenues. But, it recorded a loss of $525,000 at the box office, leaving the director to come up with another project. Scrambling to finance his company’s next big production, the next film he directed would be State of the Union.

Despite the failure, it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

There Was Supposed To Be A Laugh Track For A Charlie Brown Christmas

Lee Mendelson Films/MovieStillsDb
Lee Mendelson Films/MovieStillsDb

Back in the sixties, it was a standard procedure to have a laugh track over any half-hour sitcom. The Flintstones were notorious for using a canned studio audience to help cue viewers for jokes. When it came to A Charlie Brown Christmas, executive producer Lee Mendelson told Charles Schulz he didn’t see the Peanuts special being any different.

Schulz left the room before coming in and continuing as if nothing had happened. Mendelson got the hint.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Almost Never Happened

MGM Television Warner Bros. Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb
MGM Television Warner Bros. Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb

Today’s studios and production companies provide funding for projects of interest. However, for specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, they had to rely on company sponsorship to get made. Charlie Brown found its financier from Coca-Cola, but for The Grinch, it struggled to find a benefactor.

Eventually, The Grinch was produced by The Cat in the Hat Productions in association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and a Christmas classic was born.

John Hughes Flight From New York To Chicago Inspired Planes, Trains, And Automobiles

Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Long before he became a screenwriter, Hughes used to work as a copywriter for the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago. Hughes had an early morning presentation in New York and planned to be home on an evening flight. But, thanks to mother nature giving Chicago a snowstorm, his flight had been canceled that night, so he stayed in a hotel.

The plane he eventually got on ended up being diverted to Denver, then Phoenix. The Breakfast Club director didn’t make it back until three days after.

Ralphie’s Dad Never Had A Name In A Christmas Story

MGM/UA Entertainment Co./MovieStillsDb
MGM/UA Entertainment Co./MovieStillsDb

Since the film’s release, fans have pointed out one particular instance. In Bob Clark’s scene, it appears as if Ralphie’s father does have a name: Hal. The reason why is because they believed that in the exchange between the two neighbors, Swede asks of the leg lamp, “Damn Hal, you say you won it?”

Nevertheless, the film’s original screenplay confirmed the following: Swede’s actual line is, “Damn, hell, you say you won it?”

A Muppet Christmas Carol Was The First Movie Without Jim Henson

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution/MovieStillsDb
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution/MovieStillsDb

The mastermind behind the beloved Muppets characters passed away on May 16, 1990. Just two years after his death, The Muppet Christmas Carol debuted on December 11, 1992. Steve Whitmire took over Henson’s role as the voice of Kermit the Frog. The film is dedicated to Henson and his recently deceased collaborator Richard Hunt.

Hunt was responsible for his long-time performances of these characters Scooter, Beaker, Janice, Statler, and Sweetums.

Four Plot Lines Were Cut From Love Actually

Universal Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Universal Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Director Ricard Curtis aimed to include a total of 14 love stories. The plots before production involved a girl with a wheelchair and one with a boy who records a love song for a classmate who breaks up with his drummer. Other plot lines included an African couple supporting each other during a famine.

Another storyline that was ultimately scrapped followed a school headmistress revealing her long-time commitment to her lesbian partner.

“Frosty The Snowman” Was A Hit Song Before It Was On The Small Screen

DreamWorks Classics NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb
DreamWorks Classics NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb

Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson wrote the iconic jingle in 1950. Essentially, it was their way of capitalizing on the success of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” by Gene Autry. From a sales standpoint, the record wasn’t as huge as Autry’s single. However, Little Golden Books published the song title as a children’s book.

Then, almost 20 years later, a twenty-five-minute television special appeared and it followed with four more sequels.

The Plot For The Nightmare Before Christmas Was Inspired By The Collision Of Holiday Store Decorations

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution/MovieStillsDb
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution/MovieStillsDb

Director Tim Burton explained how the movie came about in the film’s DVD commentary. The Beetlejuice director revealed that seasonal changes did not mark his childhood in Burbank, California. However, when it came to fall and winter, there was a melding of Halloween and Christmas in stores eager to make the most of both shopping seasons.

Burton claimed that planted the seed for his tale of the king of Halloween intruding on Christmas.

The Puppets From Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Were Recently Discovered

NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb
NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb

The puppets somehow resurfaced in an episode of Antiques Roadshow in 2016. It wasn’t all of them, just Santa and Rudolph. A woman who worked for Rankin/Bass had sorted out the puppets in her attic since the seventies. Prior to that, she let her kids play with them, with Rudolph losing his nose, and Santa losing some of his eyebrows.

After their trip to Antiques Roadshow, they havesince been displayed at the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Hugh Grant Wasn’t About Dancing In Love Actually

Universal Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Universal Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Can you really blame him? Despite Grant and director Richard Curtis working together on Notting Hill, they had a deep disagreement on how the Prime Minister should be played. Grant wanted it to be a grounded performance and resented Curtis’s push to make the part more whimsical.

This came to a head when shooting the dance number, which Grant refused to rehearse. They didn’t shoot it until the final day and it went so well that when it was edited, they discovered that it went better than expected.

Jim Carrey Was Supposed To Star In Elf

New Line Cinema/MovieStillsDb
New Line Cinema/MovieStillsDb

David Berenbaum wrote a spec script for the film in 1993. Jim Carrey, who was pre-Ace Ventura, was attached to star in the Christmas film. However, Carrey didn’t appear as Buddy the Elf for a few reasons. The movie took almost 10 years to get a green light for production.

By the time Jon Favreau was attached to direct, Saturday Night Live star Will Ferrell was signed on for the role.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Was A Song Before The Speical

IMDb.com
IMDb.com

At a time when sheet music outsold records, J. Fred Coots and Henry Gillespie wrote the piece in 1932. The song would gain national exposure thanks to Eddie Cantor. Coots’ employer reluctantly sang it on his radio show in 1934.

Considering the music publisher’s dire warning that songs aimed at children were doomed to fail, it was a surprising success. Cantor’s performance sent the sheet music for the song flying off the shelves of retailers.

Jack Nicholson Was Interested In Playing Ralphie’s Dad

Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

Apparently, Jack Nicholson was reportedly offered the role of The Old Man Parker in A Christmas Story. But, any interest in casting, and paying him, would have meant doubling the budget. Nevertheless, it was director Bob Clark who didn’t know Nicholson was interested.

Ultimately, Nicholson was never cast for the role of Ralphie’s dad in the iconic movie. Instead, it went to Darren McGavin, who was the perfect choice for the role.

The Grinch’s Green Color Was Inspired By A Rental Car

MGM Television Warner Bros. Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb
MGM Television Warner Bros. Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb

In the original book, the Grinch is illustrated in black and white, with hints of pink and red. Apparently, that was never the case for the character. Instead, as rumors have it, Chuck Jones was inspired to give the Grinch a whole different color.

The Grinch’s iconic coloring came after Jones rented a car that was painted with an ugly shade of green. Of course, the change proved to be worth it.

You Can Thank Stanley Kubrick For Christmas Vacation

Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

Jeremiah Checkik began his career as a fashion photographer for Vogue before transitioning into directing. The Christmas Vacation director talked to Den of Geek! in 2011, and said, “They were very dark and sexy and sort of a little bit ahead of their time regarding style.” They gained the notice of Kubrick, who had mentioned them as his favorite American filmmaker.

It didn’t take long for Chechik’s phone to start ringing and for studios to start sending him scripts.

The Tarantula Scene In Home Alone Was In Fact Real

20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb
20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Kevin places Buzz’s tarantula on Marv’s face, and it turns out, the spider was actually real. Even actor Daniel Stern agreed to let that happen, but it was only for one take only. The only thing that wasn’t real during the scene was one thing. Remember when Marc scream’s like a girl?

In order to not frighten the spider, Stern had to mime the scream, then have the sound dubbed in later on.

Bill Murray Improvised A Lot Of His Lines In Scrooged And He Didn’t Get Along With The Director

Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb

In 1988, director Richard Donner talked with Philadelphia Daily News about Murray’s improvisation. “It’s like standing on 42nd Street and Broadway, and the lights are out, and you’re the traffic cop.” That’s enough to say that there was plenty of conflict between the director and Murray.

In fact, Murray described the experience to be a fair amount of misery. He described working on a “dusty, smelly, and smokey set” feeling alone most of the time.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Killed The Aluminum Tree Business Altogether

Lee Mendelson Films/MovieStillsDb
Lee Mendelson Films/MovieStillsDb

Aluminum Christmas trees were marketed beginning in 1958. They enjoyed a fairly consistent success in sales because they eliminated the pesky needles and tree sap. But, thanks to the yearly airings of A Charlie Brown Christmas, it swayed the public into thinking something else.

In the special, Charlie refuses to get a fake tree because it’s ‘too commercial.’ Audiences began to feel the same way, and the product was phased out by 1969.

The FBI Didn’t Think It’s A Wonderful Life Was So Wonderful

RKO Radio Pictures/MovieStillsDb
RKO Radio Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Way back in 1947, the FBI issued a memo in regards to the movie. The FBI noted that they believed that the film was a potential “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry.”

They even went as far as saying it’s: “rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘Scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.”

Richard Donner Considers Scrooged The Point Where Murray Became “An Actor”

Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb

Scroogedis mainly a comedy, but it concludes with Murray’s character becoming a changed man. Eventually, Murray has to deliver a dramatic speech in order to make his character’s transformation clear. But, Donner told Philadelphia Daily Newsthat he witnessed something much greater in that scene.

“On the last take I saw something happen to Billy. I saw Billy Murray become an actor.” That added more beef between the director and actor.

A Christmas Story Got Science Right

MGM/UA Entertainment Co./MovieStillsDb
MGM/UA Entertainment Co./MovieStillsDb

It’s no surprise that Mythbusters tested whether it was really possible to get your tongue stuck on a piece of cold metal. Long before the myth was busted, kids would be foolish enough to put their tongue on the pole and have it get stuck.

Well, guess what? You can get your tongue stuck on a frozen pole. Do NOT triple dog dare your best friend to do that, because that’s serious business.

When Neal Is Thinking About Del On The Train, Steve Martin Didn’t Know The Camera Was Rolling

Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDb

John Hughes had to get what he wanted. Editor Paul Hirsch went back to look for footage they previously didn’t think would be beneficial. However, Hughes had kept the cameras rolling in between takes on the Chicago train.

Without his lead’s knowledge, Martin was thinking about his next lines for the scene. Hughes essentially thought that Martin had a “beautiful expression” on his face in that surprising moment.

Harry & Marv May Not Have Survived Kevin’s Attacks In Home Alone

20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb
20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

BB gun shots to the forehead and groin, a steaming hot iron and can of paint to the face? A flaming blowtorch to the scalp was enough for The Wet Bandits to endure an awful lot of violence. Even at the hands of an eight-year-old, Dr. Ryan St. Clair came up with a diagnosis.

The iron should have caused a “blowout fracture” leading to serious “disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly.”

Rudolph Has A Son Named Robbie

NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb
NBCUniversal Television Distribution/MovieStillsDb

According to the BBC, he has one. There are three developed cartoons based on Rudolph’s offspring. However, the name of Robbie’s iconic father is never even mentioned. The plotline tells us that the villain of the series, Blitzen, can’t stand to hear Rudolph’s name.

However, when it comes to reality, it’s because the BBC couldn’t get permission to use it (or didn’t want to pay to use it). Why was Blitzen such a grouch?

Jean Shepherd Makes An On-Screen Appearance In A Christmas Story

IMDb.com
IMDb.com

The narrator, a.k.a. Adult Ralphie, was actually in the movie. If the voice of the man who brusquely informs Ralphie and Randy that the line to sit on Santa’s lap begins about two miles further back than they had anticipated sounds familiar, it’s because Jean Shepherd did that.

The man upon whose short stories the film itself has based one was Shepherd himself. The woman behind Shepherd is his wife, Leigh Brown.

Do Not Expect A Sequel For Elf

New Line Cinema/MovieStillsDb
New Line Cinema/MovieStillsDb

The comedian reprised the role of Ron Burgundy for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Considering it took almost a decade a for a sequel to come out, don’t get your hopes up for Elf 2.

Even after a reported offer of $29 million, Ferrell told USA Today how he felt about a potential sequel. “I just think it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights: Buddy the middle-aged elf.”

Dorothy Parker Worked On The Script For It’s A Wonderful Life

New York Times Co./Getty Images
New York Times Co./Getty Images

When It’s a Wonderful Life made it into theaters, more than a half-dozen people contributed to the screenplay. One of the many writers for the script was Dorothy Parker, one of the most acclaimed writers of the time.

Both of her literary works were published in The New Yorker and she was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the table, her success included two Academy Award nominations.

Filmmakers Of Jingle All The Way Were Sued For Plagiarism And Lost

20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb
20th Century Fox/MovieStillsDb

Randy Kornfield penned the official script, but his high school teacher Brian Alan Webster alleged his Could This Be Christmas? script was fairly similar. The publishing firm that had the rights to Webster’s script would go on to win a $19 million lawsuit from 20th Century Fox.

The ruling was overturned in 2004 since the script was about “the quest of a Caucasian mother attempting to obtain a hard-to-get action figure toy as a Christmas gift for her son.”

Christmas Vacation Was One Of Only Two Christmas Films Released In 1989

Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDb

Though the holiday season is usually packed with Christmas-themed movies, Christmas Vacation was one of only two that were released in 1989. The other was John Hancock’s Prancer. Interestingly enough, Johnny Galecki, a.k.a. Rusty Griswold, starred in both. But, we all know where Galecki would end up.

He would have roles on the sitcom Roseanne, and another role in the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory.