13 Best Christmas Movies Ever and How Much They Made at the Box Office

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We all have our favorite holiday movie, but which are truly the best? And how much did they make at the box office? The answers could surprise you.

Believe it or not, the contemporary holiday movie that critics liked best was Tim Burton's 1993 film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is according to movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, which provided TheStreet with a list of its top-rated holiday movies.

Rotten Tomatoes ranked the movies based on their "Tomatometer" score, which represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or show, adjusted for number of reviews and year of release. TheStreet's list excludes foreign films or those that were released before 1984 -- with two exceptions, 1983's A Christmas Story and 1983's Trading Places. That's because movie studios did not consistently distribute box office sales numbers before 1984, says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Rentrak (RENT) , a media measurement firm that tracks sales and viewership across platforms.

"Before that it was hit or miss," Dergarabedian said.

While holiday classics like Miracle on 34th Street, which came out in 1947, or It's a Wonderful Life, released in 1946, are some of the top-rated films according to Rotten Tomatoes, there is little data available to shed light on each of their box office sales and so they aren't included in this list.

In addition to critics, moviegoers were also charmed by the surreal Tim Burton classic, as the film grossed $123 million in inflation-adjusted box office sales. 

Click through to see how much other top-rated Christmas movies made.


13.  Bad Santa (2003)

Rotten Tomatoes said: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn't for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 83%

Distributor: Miramax Films

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $77.5 million


12. Batman Returns (1992)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Director Tim Burton's dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton's work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 84%

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $275.5 million


11. A Midnight Clear (1992)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted, A Midnight Clear is a holiday war film in search of a wider audience.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 87%

Distributor: Interstar

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $2.5 million


10. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Rotten Tomatoes said: The most successful installment in a phenomenally successful series, Lethal Weapon helped redefine action movies for the 1980s and 1990s.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 87%

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $136.2 million


9. Elf (2003)

Rotten Tomatoes said: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 88%

Distributor: New Line Cinema

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $223.7 million

 

8. Gremlins (1984)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Whether you choose to see it as a statement on consumer culture or simply a special effects-heavy popcorn flick, Gremlins is a minor classic.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 89%

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $338.7 million

7. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 90%

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $5.2 million

6. In Bruges (2008)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, In Bruges is an effective mix of dark comedy and crime thriller elements.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 90%

Distributor: Focus Features

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $8.6 million

5. Trading Places (1983)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Featuring deft interplay between Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, Trading Places is an immensely appealing social satire.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 91%

Distributor: Paramount

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $215.5 million

4. A Christmas Story (1983)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 93%

Distributor: MGM

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $46 million

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3. Arthur Christmas (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 96%

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $49 million


2. Die Hard (1988)

Rotten Tomatoes said: Its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of the definitive holiday action classic.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 97%

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $163.4 million

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Rotten Tomatoes said: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.

Adjusted Tomatometer Score: 100%

Distributor: Walt Disney

Domestic Box Office Gross (adjusted for inflation): $123.4 million


- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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