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.

Survey: Watching Holiday Movies Ranks Higher Than Decorating Tree as Holiday Tradition

Americans rank watching holiday movies (72%) over decorating the tree (66%) and baking cookies (55%) as one of their favorite holiday traditions, according to a new survey.

In a survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by free global streaming media platform Plex and OnePoll, more than half (52%) of respondents said they believe the holidays would feel “incomplete” without their favorite movies, and the same amount say watching holiday movies helps them bond with their family. 

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The survey also found that four in 10 Americans (39%) binge-watch movies during the holiday season,  more than any other time of year; 63% of respondents said the holidays are stressful, but the nostalgia of holiday movies and content is comforting, and makes them feel joyful (56%); 34% would download and/or subscribe to a new streaming service that has their favorite holiday movie; and 29% create a cozy ambiance during the holiday season by streaming virtual fireplace settings, such as the Yule Log.

Other findings include:

Top Three Holiday Movies

It’s a Wonderful Life (43%)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (42%)
Home Alone (42%)

Top Three Non-Traditional Holiday Movies

Die Hard (25%)
Frozen (23%)
The Sound of Music (21%)

Top Three Holiday Movie Characters

Kevin Mcallister — Home Alone (30%)
The Grinch (29%)
Clark Griswold  — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (26%) 

Top Holiday TV Specials + Episodes

Best holiday-themed TV special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (60%)
Most popular holiday-themed TV episode: “Friends” episode “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (19%)

Whip Research: Hallmark, Netflix and Lifetime Top of Mind for Made-for-TV Holiday Movie Viewers

Hallmark, Netflix and Lifetime, in that order, were top-of-mind destinations for made-for-TV holiday movie viewers in a Whip Media survey.

Respondents in the survey — taken among U.S. users of the TV Time app who view such content — ranked Disney+ at No. 4 and Hulu at No. 5.

More than half of survey respondents said they discovered new holiday movies through ads or trailers (52%) and/or recommendations from a streaming service or device (51%). Nearly half (47%) also indicated the importance of social media in finding out about new holiday releases.

Storyline/premise (68%) and cast (61%) were rated as top draws for such content, according to those surveyed, but merely having access to the network/platform was also important at 58%.

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Consumers of such holiday movie content have a strong appetite for it, with slightly more than half of those in the survey (53%) prioritizing watching holiday content to some degree during the season. A strong majority (74%) report watching both new and previously released made-for-TV holiday movies. Nearly one-fifth (17%) of holiday TV movie viewers focus on new releases only. About three-quarters (71%) of respondents said they will often watch these titles alone, with 51% saying they will often watch with their families. A little more than a quarter (28%) watch with their partner. 

Whip conducted the survey of 3,214 U.S. TV Time users Nov. 9-10, 2022.

Warner Offers Up Four Holiday Classics on 4K Ultra HD

Four classic  holiday family films — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Elf and The Polar Express — are available now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The combo packs will include a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with each feature film in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc with the feature films and pre-existing special features, and a digital version of the feature films.

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), as the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas. He pesters his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and children as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. Things go awry quickly when cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs. The screenplay is by John Hughes and based on characters by Hughes.

A Christmas Story (1983) is set in a 1940s-era Midwestern town and told from the viewpoint of a 7-year-old boy who only wants one thing for Christmas — a Red Ryder BB gun. The episodic tale chronicles not only his schemes to convince his mother and father to buy him one, but also offers a warmly nostalgic look into 1940s middle-class American life. The long-awaited follow-up to A Christmas Story, A Christmas Story Christmas will debut on HBO Max Nov. 17. In the sequel, Ralphie is all grown up and must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it as a dad. Peter Billingsley returns to the role.

Elf (2003) tells the tale of a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts on Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf. Years later Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York City to find his true identity. The film is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner and Bob Newhart.

In The Polar Express (2004), when a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the animated film is based on the classic Caldecott award-winning children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg. It features the voices of Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen.

Animated ‘The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute’ Due Through Digital Retailers Nov. 15

The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute, an animated twist on the original Nutcracker story, will be available via on demand and digital sellthrough Nov. 15 from Lionsgate.

In the holiday tale, one winter’s night, Marie makes a wish that shrinks her down to pint-sized and brings her toys to life — including a brave nutcracker named George. Marie and her toys follow George through a portal into the Land of Flowers, which has been taken over by a rat queen. With time running out, they must solve puzzles to find the Magic Flute, break the curse, and free the citizens of this enchanted land.

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Vizio Unveils Holiday Hub

Vizio has unveiled “Unwrap the Magic of SmartCast,” its holiday hub featuring a collection of special programming for the holiday season.

With more than 200 hours of holiday-themed movies, TV episodes, music and more from app partners, the hub features free and premium holiday streaming options, including 12 days of special offers and discounts on video-on-demand movies throughout December.

Vizio has teamed up with ROW8 and Redbox to present 12 days of SmartCast movie deals with specially priced, video-on-demand holiday titles such as Elf, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Arthur Christmas, as well as new releases such as Fatman, The Stand-in and Greenland.

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“We are pleased to offer Vizio SmartCast consumers the ultimate holiday destination with hundreds of hours of holiday movies and programming to celebrate the season,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “With our abundant holiday content offering free channels, premium apps, and discounted holiday titles, together with our seasonal discounts on our award-winning TVs and sound bars, Vizio continues to deliver a best-in-class entertainment experience for people of all ages.”

The holiday hub can be found on the SmartCast home screen and includes a combination of premium content and free channel options. SmartCast provides audiences with home screen access to subscription apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video and Peacock as well as streaming across 130-plus free channels. SmartCast supports streaming from devices with Apple AirPlay and Chromecast Built-in, and smart home connectivity with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices.

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,’ ‘Elf’ Top Favorite Holiday Films in Redbox Customer Survey

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was the top classic and Elf the top post-2000 film in a Redbox customer survey on favorite holiday movies. The survey of 402 “engaged Redbox customers” took place Nov. 9-15.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a 1989 comedy film starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a man who loves Christmas but whose plans to give his family the best Christmas ever are repeatedly spoiled by everything from a trapped squirrel to a Scrooge-like boss. Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and Juliette Lewis also star.

Elf, directed by Jon Favreau, is a 2003 comedy with Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who was adopted and raised by Santa’s elves. When he discovers he’s not a real elf he travels to New York City to meet up with his real dad, a curmudgeonly book publisher.

Survey results were:

What is your favorite classic holiday movie?

  1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  2. It’s A Wonderful Life
  3. A Christmas Story
  4. Home Alone
  5. A Charlie Brown Christmas

 

What’s your favorite tradition around the holidays?

  1. Watch holiday movies
  2. Put up holiday decorations
  3. Cook holiday meals
  4. Listen to holiday music
  5. Buy presents

 

Which is your favorite holiday movie made since 2000?

  1. Elf
  2. The Polar Express
  3. Seuss’ The Grinch
  4. Love Actually
  5. Bad Santa

 

Redbox is running a “Merry Movie Nights” promotion, featuring holiday hits at the Box, including Last Christmas, Christmas Under the Stars, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas; Christmas classics and family favorites On Demand, including The Polar Express, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and How the Grinch Stole Christmas; holiday romances On Demand, including The Holiday, Love Actually, Last Holiday, Serendipity, The Best Man Holiday and Just Friends; and “Not Really Christmas Movies,” including Die Hard, Edward Scissorhands, Gremlins, Why Him, Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone and Trading Places.

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Redbox also has holiday movie channels, holiday music and a yule log fireplace channel coming out soon for Free Live TV.