‘Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas’ Due on PBS, PBS.org, PBS App Dec. 18

The holiday special “Mary Berry’s Highland Christmas” is headed to PBS (9-10 p.m. EST), PBS.org and the PBS app Dec. 18.

In her latest holiday special, Dame Mary Berry travels to her mother’s homeland, Scotland. Inspired by her own family holidays, Mary cooks up an array of dishes, joined by three friends: former world number one tennis player and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray; BAFTA Award-winning comedian, writer and “Love Island” narrator Iain Stirling; and singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé. They share stories, memories and indulgent Christmas dishes.

“I’ve always been incredibly proud of my Scottish heritage, so where better to get cozy and cook for the holidays than in the Scottish Highlands,” Dame Mary said in a statement.

The new special finds Mary preparing favorite holiday dishes, many of which are inspired by her family’s roots in Scotland. On the menu is a Christmas Cranachan Pavlova Wreath, combining the traditional Scottish dessert made from oats, fruit and cream with a pavlova twist. And during a visit to tennis legend Andy Murray’s hotel in Dunblane, Mary, Andy and his grandmother cook up the classic breakfast dish Kedgeree. 

Mary shares her festive Smoked Salmon and Guacamole canape recipe, followed by a Fennel and Onion Tarte Tatin. Iain Stirling attempts to herd some reindeer while Mary rustles up an indulgent Christmas fondue.

Mary shares her iconic Highland Beef Pie, made with Aberdeen Angus beef and pickled walnuts, and then it’s off to a traditional Scottish celebration known as a ceilidh, where she makes her classic mulled wine for the revelers. Aberdeenshire-raised singer Emeli Sandé pops in to help Mary make her classic Bûche du Noël before surprising her with some visitors — a choir of carolers performing outside the cottage in the snow. 

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Dame Mary Berry is the author of more than 70 books, including the bestselling Mary Berry Cooks, Mary Berry’s Absolute Favorites, Mary Berry At Home and Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. She was the judge on the BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off” (which aired for five seasons on PBS as “The Great British Baking Show”). Following her training at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, Mary began her career as a magazine cookery editor before publishing her first cookbook in 1966. In 2009, Mary was awarded the highly coveted Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2012 she was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Animated ‘Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie!’ Available Digitally Nov. 21

The animated holiday musical Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie!, from executive producer Wyatt Cenac, Warner Bros. Animation, and Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment,  will debut digitally Nov. 21.

Starring Steve Urkel, the breakout character from the series “Family Matters,” Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie! features the voices of Jaleel White (as Steve Urkel), Nicole Byer (“Nailed It”), Roy Wood Jr. (“The Daily Show”) and Kym Whitley (“The Bay”). 

In the film, the holiday season is here, and brilliant but accident-prone super genius Steve Urkel has only one mission: to make the holidays the best they can be for everyone. However, things are off to a not so merry start after he ruins a celebration at his local shopping mall and humiliates the department store Santa. Hoping to make things right, Steve invents a device that helps people spread holiday cheer but it only manages to make things worse. Using his big brain, it’s up to Steve to help the city rediscover the holiday spirit.

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Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes and Vudu Marketing for the Holidays

Fandango and its Rotten Tomatoes and Vudu sites are marketing for the holidays.

Rotten Tomatoes has created curated watchlists, such as 60 Best Thanksgiving Movies (including Planes, Trains and Automobiles and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving) and 100 Best Christmas Movies of All Time (including Home Alone and Love Actually).

Meanwhile parent company and movie ticketing site Fandango and Vudu, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, are offering holiday-themed gift cards for titles in theaters and at home.

Vudu is also featuring deals on titles and collections of holiday favorites across Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as round-ups of Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies.

Rotten Tomatoes’ 2023 Holiday Movie Preview also offers a breakdown of what it considers the best flicks that November and December have to offer, including The Marvels, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Wonka, which were named the top three most-anticipated wide releases of the holiday season, respectively, per Fandango’s 2023 Most Anticipated Holiday Movie Survey.

Rotten Tomatoes is also listing Rotten Christmas Movies We Love, the Best International Christmas Movies and Modern Christmas Classics to Add to Your Holiday Movie List.

Also available is a party game Rotten Tomatoes: The Card Game.

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Family Film ‘Snow White’s Christmas Adventure’ Due Digitally Dec. 19

The family film Snow White’s Christmas Adventure arrives via on demand and digital purchase Dec. 19 from Lionsgate.

In the film, when the wicked queen bewitches Snow White’s beloved prince just before Christmas, the beautiful princess must gather her friends, reverse the curse, and show the queen the true meaning of the holiday season. Elijah Rowen, Rayna Campbell, and Jennifer Mischiati star in a lighthearted twist on the classic tale.

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Fandango Survey: ‘The Marvels’ Most Anticipated Holiday Movie

The Marvels led the field in the 2023 Most Anticipated Holiday Movies Survey from online movie ticketing service Fandango.

Surveying nearly 2,000 ticket buyers, Fandango found that 83% of moviegoers plan to watch at least one wide-release film in theaters this holiday season, with nearly three-quarters of respondents planning to see at least two films in theaters and 66% saying they are interested in seeing newly released movies with their families. 

The results from Fandango’s 2023 Most Anticipated Holiday Movie Survey are: 

Top 10 Most Anticipated Wide-Release Movies:

  1. The Marvels
  2. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom 
  3. Wonka
  4. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 
  5. Napoleon 
  6. Wish
  7. The Color Purple
  8. Ferrari 
  9. Poor Things 
  10. Godzilla Minus One

 

Top 10 Movies Moviegoers Plan to Purchase on Digital Platforms, such as Vudu, when Available: 

  1. The Marvels 
  2. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom 
  3. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 
  4. Wonka 
  5. Godzilla Minus One 
  6. Napoleon 
  7. Wish
  8. Trolls Band Together 
  9. The Boy and the Heron 
  10. Thanksgiving 

 

Respondents also listed their favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed titles:

Top 10 Favorite Thanksgiving-Themed Movies: 

  1. Knives Out
  2. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  3. Addams Family Values
  4. Grumpy Old Men
  5. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  6. Scent of a Woman
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Soul Food
  9. Hannah and Her Sisters
  10. The Ice Storm

 

Top 10 Favorite Christmas-Themed Movies: 

  1. Home Alone 
  2. Elf
  3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  4. The Santa Clause 
  5. It’s a Wonderful Life
  6. A Christmas Story
  7. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  9. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  10. Miracle on 34th St

Vizio Bows Shoppable Holiday Series With Home Depot

Vizio Nov. 1 announced the launch of an exclusive shoppable content series “Merry & Bright,” available now and running through Dec. 31.

The branded entertainment series, presented by The Home Depot, is produced by Vizio and is hosted by Grammy-nominated “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, who Vizio brought on for the project.

“Merry & Bright” consists of three 10-minute episodes plus bonus shorts featuring Sparks’ “Holiday Tips and Tricks.” In each episode, Sparks introduces viewers to a family before guiding audiences through the decor transformation process and reveal, all with holiday products and expertise available at The Home Depot.

Each episode will include a holiday makeover ranging from enchanted forests to real-life snow globes to a nostalgic Christmas transformation. By scanning integrated in-episode QR codes, audiences are directed to a custom “shop the look” page on HomeDepot.com where they can add products seen on screen into their shopping cart.

The series can be found on Vizio’s Home Screen Hero, which will spotlight different episodes of the show each week. 

“The shift to streaming is allowing brands to think beyond the traditional 15 and 30-second spot and really become the entertainment,” Katlyn Wilson, director of branded content sales and strategy at Vizio, said in a statement. “It’s exciting to partner with such an established and innovative brand like The Home Depot, who is taking advantage of these opportunities to deliver emotion-led storytelling, centered around Vizio’s audience interests like holiday content and DIY.”

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“Merry & Bright” is produced by Turn Card Content with Audra Smith, Courtney Smith, Jake Haelen and Amy Hurt serving as executive producers. The Vizio “Merry & Bright” partnership was negotiated by The Home Depot’s media agency OMD USA, and orchestrated by The Content Collective, OMD’s content marketing division.

“This partnership exemplifies how shoppable technology is expanding the role of brand storytelling from an upper-to-mid funnel tool to driving immediate commerce action and sales impact,” Brandon Helrich, Group director at OMD’s The Content Collective, said in a statement.

Holiday Comedy ‘Dashing Through the Snow’ Headed to Disney+ Nov. 17

The original family holiday comedy Dashing Through the Snow, starring Lil Rel Howery, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Teyonah Parris, will debut Nov. 17 exclusively on Disney+.

Dashing Through the Snow is about a social worker for the Atlanta police department and the Christmas Eve journey with his estranged daughter that helps him to remember the joy and magic of the yuletide season. 

Eddie Garrick (Bridges) is a good-hearted man who has turned his back on Christmas due to a traumatic childhood experience. At the request of his wife Allison Garrick (Parris), from whom he is separated, Eddie takes his 9-year-old daughter Charlotte (Madison Skye Validum) to work with him on Christmas Eve, where they meet a mysterious man in a red suit named Nick (Howery). Eddie, who is a social worker, thinks the man is delusional and needs professional help, but when he evokes the wrath of a local politician (Oscar Nuñez), he and his daughter are taken on a magical adventure that just might restore his faith in Christmas.

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Dashing Through the Snow also stars Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ravi V. Patel, Gina Brillon, Kevin Connolly, and Zulay Henao.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ to Face Three New Releases, Weather Over Christmas Weekend Box Office

The late-year box office hit Avatar: The Way of Water, from Disney-owned 20th Century Studios, is set to dominate its second weekend box office, with more than $60 million in projected revenue across the Christmas holiday.

Director James Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 original Avatar has shown strong sea legs all week, generating ticket sales of $16.2 million, $18.2 million and $14.4 million over Dec. 19, 20 and 21, respectively. The movie is expected to up its North American total past $259 million (near $700 million globally) through Dec. 25.

While three new box office releases over Christmas include an animated sequel to a popular 11-year-old title, Puss in Boots, and a period drama starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, moviegoers also have to contend with record-breaking winter weather affecting moviegoing consumers across major designated market areas such as Chicago, New York and the Northeast.

More than half the U.S. population will be subjected to arctic wind chill alerts over the Christmas weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Regardless, new box office releases include Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, follow-up to 2011’s Puss in Boots. The sequel, which is projected to generate more than $16 million across Christmas weekend, has already sold $21.9 million worth of tickets globally, including $3.2 million in a Dec. 21 North American sneak peak screenings.

Sony/Columbia Pictures’ Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, is aimed at older female moviegoers and projected to generate upwards of $9 million in ticket sales.

Finally, Paramount Pictures’ Babylon, a period drama about Hollywood debauchery, is projected to see more than $6 million in opening weekend revenue. It will be the first major Paramount release in 2022 not to finish No. 1 at the box office in its debut.

Box office returnees include Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Universal’s Violent Night, and A24’s The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser.

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This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Avatar 2’ Box Office Blowout; James Cameron Quotes and Interviews; Charlie’s Feel-Good Christmas-Time Movie List

 

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley cover news around Avatar 2’s release. It had the fifth-largest domestic opening of the year, and made $435 million globally. It was a meaty opening weekend yet it still didn’t quite meet projections. Charles brings in a series of interviews director James Cameron has given over the years and breaks down the characteristics of this auteur director. It’s a spirited discussion around this director because the release of Avatar 2 has such a unique development history, not to mention the ongoing development of planned sequels in the franchise.

Charlie wraps up the episode with an exhaustive list of movies he watched over the weekend while he was knocked out sick in bed. It spans the gamut of thriller/criminal/mystery/revenge films, including multiple foreign films and some mainstream ones that flew under the radar during their releases. He facetiously calls it his “feel-good Christmas-time movie list” but beware that most of the movies he cites tend to get graphic. One movie however, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, gets an asterisk for actually taking place during Christmas. Listen to the episode for the full list.

Warner Bowing Holiday Titles for Digital Purchase

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing a collection of holiday titles for digital purchase Dec. 13.

A Christmas Story Christmas follows Ralphie from the classic A Christmas Story, who is all grown up. In this sequel to the annual holiday favorite, he must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it, this time as a dad. Peter Billingsley returns to the role he played as a child. The film also stars Erinn Hayes, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward and Julie Hagerty.

In Holiday Harmony, singer/songwriter Gail lands an opportunity to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the big time, and heads cross country — getting only as far as Harmony Springs, Okla., when her ride, her budget and all her hopes are stalled. With just two weeks to get to the iHeartRadio Christmas Eve performance of her dreams, she takes the advice of local Jack-of-all-trades Jeremy and takes on a group of misfit kids hoping to perform in a Christmas Eve Gala of their own. Gail and Jeremy grow close, but if she’s going to fulfill her lifelong dream, she may have to leave him and the town she’s grown to love behind. The film stars Annelise Cepero, Jeremy Sumpter and Brooke Shields.

In A Christmas Mystery, 100 years ago, a strip of Santa’s magical jingle bells was discovered by a young boy in Shelter Bay, Ore., bringing about a century of prosperity and peace for the small town. Now, just days before Christmas, the bells — the lifeblood of the town — are missing, and it’s up to a group of intrepid kids to solve the case, find the bells and restore the Christmas magic to Shelter Bay and its citizens. The film stars Violet McGraw, Santino Bernard, Lauren Lindsay Donzis, Leonardo Cecchi, Eddie Cibrian, Oscar Nuñez, Christoph Sanders, Drew Powell and Beau Bridges.

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A Hollywood Christmas follows Jessica, a young up-and-coming filmmaker in Hollywood who has made a name for herself directing Christmas movies. But when handsome network executive Christopher shows up threatening to halt production on her latest movie, Jessica’s assistant Reena points out the irony: Jessica isn’t just trying to save her Christmas movie, she’s actually living in one. Jessica must now juggle all the classic tropes — her actors falling in and out of love, a wayward elf dog, and her own stirring romantic feelings for her perceived nemesis — in order to get her movie and her life to their happy endings. The film stars Jessica Van, Josh Swickard, Anissa Borrego, Riley Dandy, Zak Steiner, Tom Williamson and Missi Pyle.