This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
See Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE and get his new book Get Rich Carefully! Learn More

10 Top-Grossing Holiday Films of All Time

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- The Christmas holiday season has left a whole lot of gifts at the movie industry's doorstep in recent years, but a Christmas movie hasn't been the biggest present under the tree in a long time.

According to the folks at BoxOfficeMojo, the holiday season that runs from the first Friday in November to the end of New Year's weekend or week has generated more than $2 billion in box office receipts since 2000. That's also the last year a full-on holiday movie was the top-grossing film during that stretch, with Jim Carrey's The Grinch taking in $260 million over that span.

Since then, it's been a whole lot of Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings and Twilight, with the occasional blockbuster exception of 2009's Avatar (still the holiday champ with nearly $750 million in ticket sales during that period alone) and last year's James Bond installment Skyfall (a $304 million beast). In fact, since 1982, only one other Christmas-specific movie has been the big-money film of the holiday season: Tim Allen's 1994 hit The Santa Clause. There's an argument to be made for 1985's Rocky IV -- which features Sylvester Stallone enduring a concussive Cold War bruising from Dolph Lundgren's Ivan Drago on Christmas night -- and an even stronger case for 1990's heavily Christmas-themed Home Alone, but BoxOfficeMojo doesn't consider the first a Christmas movie and relegates the latter to its Christmas -- Setting Only category.

We're going to get into that Setting Only group later this holiday season -- especially since it includes holiday favorites Gremlins, Trading Places Love Actually and the Die Hard series. But for now we're going to play along with BoxOfficeMojo's wishes and delve into its Christmas canon.

We've culled the Top 10 highest-grossing holiday films of all time and noticed that it lacks a whole lot of holiday favorites. The big lesson to be learned here is that, where Christmas movies are concerned, the initial box office numbers don't mean a whole lot. The world knows It's A Wonderful Life only because it was a moviehouse failure that didn't even cover its production costs. The $3.2 million it made during its original release in 1946 would be roughly $38 million today -- making it less successful than 2011's Arthur Christmas and its $46 million take -- and briefly relegated its images to the public domain. That allowed local TV affiliates to air it with only minimal royalty fees in the late '70s and early '80s, making it nearly ubiquitous for impressionable Generation X kids.

A Christmas Story, meanwhile, made only $20.6 million when it was released in 1983 and never played in more than 950 theaters. That's $48 million in current dollars and firmly in Arthur Christmas territory, but that kept the price of the rights just low enough for Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner and their various networks to use A Christmas Story as cheap, inoffensive holiday filler and give a whole bunch of their staff the holiday off as it aired on repeat. Both TBS and TNT have been airing 24-hour marathons of the film since 1997, and the ratings for its Christmas Eve and Christmas morning showings just keep rising.

While studio executives would probably like a Christmas film that fills their stockings as soon as it's released, history and the following 10 movies make clear that it's better to present audiences with a holiday gift that keeps on giving:

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
DOW 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,864.85 +2.54 0.14%
NASDAQ 4,095.5160 +9.2910 0.23%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs