The Worst Christmas Movies

From painful family reunions to sequels no child asked for to multiple Vince Vaughn and Tim Allen vehicles, these are all the Christmas films that scored less than 30% on the Tomatometer. And to make sure these movies landed on enough critics’ naughty lists to be deemed truly universally loathed, every entry had to have at least 20 reviews for inclusion. This leaves the likes of Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?! out in the cold, but makes plenty of space for Home Alone 3, Christmas With the Kranks, and Deck the Halls. It’s more cinematic coal than you can handle in our guide to the worst Christmas movies ever!

Best Christmas Movies | Worst Christmas Movies
Best and Worst Christmas Horror | Best Foreign Christmas Movies
Rotten Christmas Movies We Love | Modern Christmas Classics

#22

Home Alone 3 (1997)
29%

#22
Adjusted Score: 29795%
Critics Consensus: Macaulay Culkin's precocious charisma is sorely missed in this hollow sequel, which doubles down on the broad comedy while lacking all the hallmarks that made the original a classic.
Synopsis: When an inept group of criminals tries to get a stolen top-secret computer chip through airport security, it ends up... [More]
Directed By: Raja Gosnell

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 31287%
Critics Consensus: Unaccompanied Minors, while featuring credible performances by its mostly young cast, is simply a rehash of other, funnier movies.
Synopsis: When a Christmas Eve blizzard shuts down the airport, five stranded youths take the opportunity to run wild and have... [More]
Directed By: Paul Feig

#20

Noel (2004)
28%

#20
Adjusted Score: 27488%
Critics Consensus: Noel strains for holiday uplift, but -- despite the involvement of an outstanding ensemble cast -- settles for treacly sentiment instead.
Synopsis: It's nearly Christmas in New York City. Rose (Susan Sarandon) is in the hospital with her elderly mother, who's been... [More]
Directed By: Chazz Palminteri

#19

Four Christmases (2008)
25%

#19
Adjusted Score: 29501%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script.
Synopsis: When their plans for an exotic vacation fall apart, unmarried couple Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) must spend... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#18
Adjusted Score: 24781%
Critics Consensus: Neither parent nor child will find any merriment in this mess.
Synopsis: Estranged from his father (Gary Cole), college student Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is lured home to New York for Christmas... [More]
Directed By: Arlene Sanford

#17
Adjusted Score: 22482%
Critics Consensus: The endearingly cheesy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians might just be so naughty it's nice for viewers seeking a sub-competent sci-fi holiday adventure.
Synopsis: Martian ruler Kimar (Leonard Hicks) is upset that the children of Mars are lazy and under the influence of too... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Webster

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 20076%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 19th-century England, a minister's quest to modernize his village puts him at odds with people who believe that whoever... [More]
Directed By: John Stephenson

#15

Fred Claus (2007)
21%

#15
Adjusted Score: 25843%
Critics Consensus: A slew of talent is wasted in this contrived and overly sentimental Christmas film, which can't quite get the balance between slapstick humor and schmaltzy uplift.
Synopsis: Of the two Claus brothers, Fred (Vince Vaughn) is the troublemaker and polar opposite of his saintly sibling, Nicholas (Paul... [More]
Directed By: David Dobkin

#14

Santa Claus (1985)
20%

#14
Adjusted Score: 17877%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In ancient times, a man named Claus (David Huddleston), who delivers toys in his small village, fulfills his destiny to... [More]
Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

#13
Adjusted Score: 20567%
Critics Consensus: It boasts a few laughs, but overall, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas ranks among Perry's least entertaining or substantive works.
Synopsis: Madea (Tyler Perry) accompanies her niece, Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), to the small town of Buck Tussel to pay a... [More]
Directed By: Tyler Perry

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 19825%
Critics Consensus: The Perfect Holiday is the perfect example of Christmas movie clichés run amok.
Synopsis: Nancy (Gabrielle Union), a divorced mother of three, feels especially lonely during the holidays. Sensing her sadness, Nancy's youngest daughter,... [More]
Directed By: Lance Rivera

#11

Love the Coopers (2015)
18%

#11
Adjusted Score: 22462%
Critics Consensus: Love the Coopers has a talented cast and a uniquely bittersweet blend of holiday cheer in its better moments, but they're all let down by a script content to settle for cloying smarm.
Synopsis: For their annual Christmas Eve celebration, Sam Cooper (John Goodman) and his wife Charlotte (Diane Keaton) welcome four generations of... [More]
Directed By: Jessie Nelson

#10
Adjusted Score: 18144%
Critics Consensus: Playing Jack Frost as an evil cross between Liza Minnelli and Liberace, Martin Short is a welcome presence, but this tired series continues drawing from its bag of bland gags and dumb slapstick.
Synopsis: Christmas cheer turns into holiday chaos when Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), aka Santa, invites his in-laws (Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin) for... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lembeck

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 22509%
Critics Consensus: Arnold Schwarzenegger tries his best, but Jingle All the Way suffers from an uneven tone, shifting wildly from a would-be satire on materialism to an antic, slapstick yuk-fest.
Synopsis: Workaholic Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wants to make things up to his son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), and wife, Liz (Rita... [More]
Directed By: Brian Levant

#8
Adjusted Score: 13815%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Boyd is forced to spend Christmas at his parents' house and has to hit the road with his eccentric father... [More]
Directed By: Tristram Shapeero

#7

Black Christmas (2006)
15%

#7
Adjusted Score: 17096%
Critics Consensus: A gratuitous remake of the 1974 slasher, Black Christmas pumps out the gore and blood with zero creativity, humor, or visual flair.
Synopsis: The holiday season turns deadly for a group of sorority sisters (Katie Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Michelle Trachtenberg)... [More]
Directed By: Glen Morgan

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 13227%
Critics Consensus: An American Carol suffers not so much from its perceived political bias, but from the fact that it simply is not very funny.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) makes movies about America's shortcomings and is now embarking on a campaign to abolish... [More]
Directed By: David Zucker

#5

Mixed Nuts (1994)
13%

#5
Adjusted Score: 13455%
Critics Consensus: Mixed Nuts may provoke strong allergic reactions in all but the most undemanding filmgoers -- and the most forgiving Steve Martin fans.
Synopsis: Philip (Steve Martin) manages a suicide-prevention hotline called Lifesavers, assisted by Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and Catherine (Rita Wilson). On... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 10795%
Critics Consensus: Surviving Christmas is unpleasant characters attacking each other for 90 minutes before delivering a typical, hollow anti-consumerist message
Synopsis: A wealthy executive, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) has no close relationships and becomes nostalgic for his childhood home as Christmas... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell

#3

Deck the Halls (2006)
6%

#3
Adjusted Score: 8097%
Critics Consensus: Relying on flat humor and a preposterous plot, Deck the Halls is an unnecessarily mean-spirited holiday movie that does little to put viewers in a holiday mood.
Synopsis: Steve (Matthew Broderick), suburban dad and Christmas enthusiast, finds a wrinkle in his well-ordered existence with the arrival of his... [More]
Directed By: John Whitesell

#2
Adjusted Score: 9540%
Critics Consensus: A mirthless movie as fresh as last year's fruit cake, Christmas with the Kranks is a coarse, garish comedy that promotes conformity.
Synopsis: Finally alone for the holidays, Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) plan to eschew the Christmas traditions... [More]
Directed By: Joe Roth

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 358%
Critics Consensus: Misguided, misconceived, and misbegotten on every level, The Nutcracker in 3D is a stunning exercise in astonishing cinematic wrong-headedness.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Unknown Actor
Directed By: Andreas Morell

This feature is by Catherine Young, the current USC Annenberg-Rotten Tomatoes Digital Innovation and Entertainment Criticism fellow, a partnership with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Cate is writing on the representation of women in film. 

Horror movie fans will be familiar with the concept of the Final Girl. The term was originally conceived in 1992 by Carol J. Clover as a way to describe the traits of the sole female victim who remains alive to tell the story of a film’s violent crime – or many violent crimes. Clover’s central idea was that, in the films where the trope is evident, the viewer initially sees the Final Girl through the killer’s perspective, but that partway through the movie, they begin to identify directly with her instead.

Final Girls illustrated the moral split between the chaste and the virtuous. You know the deal – the hard-drinking, promiscuous girl dies first, and the demure, virginal girl survives to take down the murderer. She’s the final one standing. Pop culture is replete with characters that fit the bill – Jess Bradford in the original Black Christmas, Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nancy Thompson in The Nightmare on Elm Street – and their existence has become as integral to the slasher genre as the killers themselves.

Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection)

But that was then and this is now. The original Final Girl is slowly but surely being crowded out by a newer, more progressive iteration that acknowledges the restrictive ideas that initially gave birth to her. Over the last couple of decades, and particularly in the last 10 years, the last girl standing has looked a lot different from the final girls of the past. Progressively, in films like ScreamThe Cabin In The Woods and It Follows, final girls have complicated the existing frame of the trope by pushing against its restrictions. 

Whether it’s by having sex, refusing to be constricted by archaic ideas of femininity, or simply by teaming up to fight together, these women now survive despite leading lives the genre used to consider wholly immoral and in need of corrective punishment – they’re a new kind of Final Girl. The Final Girls who were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s have become more nuanced over time, and that progress paved the way for the Finals Girls of Ready or Not and 2019’s Black Christmas who directly confront issues of misogyny and sex negativity.

In some ways, the New Final Girl is almost the original Final Girl’s polar opposite. Rather than surviving because of her innocence, naïveté or virginity, the New Final Girl is the woman who makes it to the end of the film alive specifically because of her rejection of the old norms about what makes a woman morally deserving. The New Final Girl embraces drink, drugs, and sex and defends her engagement in each of them. She insists on being seen as a full human being and actively, often violently defends her right to do so. Most of all, the New Final Girl is still an active participant in her own survival – she knows the original Final Girl shouldn’t have had to sand off her edges to stay alive. The New Final Girl is not a virginal survivor but an intentional fighter who asserts her right to exist despite perceived moral flaws.

 © Universal /Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Universal /Courtesy Everett Collection)

In the 2019 sequel slasher Happy Death Day 2U, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finds herself once again stuck in the murderous time loop of the first film. Over and over, she relives the same day, and it ends when she is brutally murdered by a serial killer known as Babyface. In the first film, the culprit is Tree’s sorority sister and roommate Lori (Ruby Modine). The two women are both having an affair with the same married professor, and Lori’s jealousy puts Tree in her crosshairs. In the sequel, Babyface is none other than the philandering professor himself, trying to eliminate any evidence of his transgressions.

What makes Tree’s Final Girl status so interesting is that she begins the story as one of the “immoral women” who would usually die in a thriller. Tree is, by all accounts, a typical sorority mean girl. When we meet her, she is recovering from a night of partying and on her way to meet the professor she’s carrying on with. And in fact, she does die, over and over again, punished for her ruthlessness, immorality, and general misbehavior. But through the mechanics of the film itself, she evolves into a New Final Girl through sheer determination. 

© Universal /Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Universal /Courtesy Everett Collection)

In both films, Tree breaks her loop and returns to her life not by becoming more virtuous, but by becoming a more compassionate and considerate person. She improves and grows as a character – including ending her affair – not because those things make her unworthy of redemption, but because they are not the best choices for her as a person. She undergoes significant character growth without ever placing a moral frame on her sexuality or femininity. And through each of the infinite deaths it takes her to get there, she plots and schemes to find her killer and thwart them, determined to prevent her eventual death and save herself. 

Tree is a novel subversion of the trope because it’s her death itself that furthers her character growth. Several times, she intentionally kills herself in service of a larger goal; sometimes to gather more information about her situation and sometimes to undo the murders of other characters. As a result, her deaths then become an intentional sacrifice that signals her increasing virtue, instead of confirming its absence. It’s a large departure from the way the original Final Girls functioned in films like these.

© Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by )

Similarly, the evolution of Halloween’s Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) into a New Final Girl in the film’s 2018 sequel of the same name is particularly notable because the character’s first iteration was in many ways the definitive final girl – most other examples are direct descendants of her legacy. In the first film, Strode is left as the sole survivor of the serial killer Michael Myers’ murder spree – the only young woman in the film who chose to abstain from the usual vices. Her survival largely conformed to expectations for women in horror at the time, and helped to cement the trope in the genre.

But in the film’s most recent sequel – which retcons several that had come before –Laurie is now an older woman, driven to extremes by her fixation on stopping Myers’ return. In the 40 years since the events of the first film, Laurie has grown into an obsessive, battle-worn veteran of the war in her own mind. She may not be having sex or doing drugs, but she’s far from the pure, “likable” babysitter we met decades earlier. She is convinced that Myers will return and has devoted her life to preparing for that eventuality. In the process she has lost custody of her daughter and become estranged from her daughter’s family. She is perceived as a lonely old woman too traumatized by her past to move on. 

© Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by )

Of course, Myers does eventually return. But this time Laurie is ready for him, having rigged her entire house to trap and kill him. Whereas in 1978 she was permitted to survive by virtue of her moral purity, in 2018 she fights like hell for that survival, taking active steps to make sure that Myers can no longer victimize her. She takes the lead in tracking Myers down and trapping him on her home turf. After spending years contemplating and preparing for the return of his torment, Laurie has transformed herself into the Ultimate Final Girl through sheer force of will. She has no intention of being defeated yet again.

Critically, Laurie must also protect her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Virginia Gardener) this time around, folding them into a generational legacy of victimization and defense. When the threat they have dismissed for so long reveals itself to be real, they join forces with Laurie to fight and eliminate it – Myers is now a specter that haunts them all, the source of their estrangement and the origin of their familial trauma. Defeating Myers together connects the women as Final Girls of a new generation, forcing them all to overlook their own and each other’s flaws in order to face the embodiment of their fractured relationships. Laurie leads the charge, but her family takes up her mantle. 

This isn’t to say that the old trope never survives. In fact, Allyson’s best friend Vicky is killed during a babysitting job soon after letting her wayward boyfriend into the house. It wouldn’t be a stretch to interpret her death as the same kind of stark moral judgement that historically happened in slasher films. This is especially true given the contrast with Allyson’s own encounter with Myers. After her boyfriend’s best friend inappropriately propositions her, he is immediately murdered while she survives. His overeager instinct to breach her consent should absolutely have been corrected, but death is a disproportionate response. The message couldn’t be clearer: all sexual impulses exist along the same punishable continuum, regardless of how welcome they might be to the participants involved.

 

© Neon /Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Neon /Courtesy Everett Collection)

One of the starkest examples of this shift in recent years is 2018’s Assassination Nation, which explored the trope in thrilling style. Set in conservative Salem, the movie focuses on a group of teen girls who find themselves at the center of a small-town lynch mob when they are blamed for the release of the community’s private information. The girls are not guilty of the mass doxing, but their reputations as “loose women” make them ideal targets for the ire and anger of the town’s men and boys. 

The girls — Lily (Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef), and Em (Abra) – are known at their high school for their skimpy outfits, their questionable choices in boys, and their perceived promiscuity. They are open about and proud of their burgeoning sexuality and enjoy exploring their relationships to the men in their lives. Lily is dating an abusive high school boy and carrying on an illicit affair with a married neighbor. Bex is trans and keeping her relationship with the popular football player a secret at his request. Sarah and Em are living with their mother Nance, who is implied to be operating a brothel out of her home. 

When the community devolves into ultraviolence, the citizens hunt the girls across the town, determined to punish them for being forced to confront their own once-private sexual shames. As the balance of power shifts, the horror genre tropes follow in quick succession. From a coordinated home invasion to a horde of masked killers to the use of guns and baseballs bats — the most American of weapons — the girls suddenly find themselves in the middle of their very own slasher film.

© Neon /Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Neon /Courtesy Everett Collection)

At another time, all four of these women would be fated to die before the credits rolled. Their proximity to vice marks them as fallen women, and only the morally pure survive the transformative power of abject terror. But as New Final Girls, all four of them not only survive but continue on to restore order to the town. The girls rescue each other from the outsized violence the men are trying to inflict on them (including an attempted rape and hanging) and take up arms to defend themselves both literally and in abstract. The film ends as they deliver a call to action to the town’s girls, surrounded by bodies and covered in glitter, both claiming the righteousness of their femininity and rejecting the ubiquity of patriarchal terror. Through female solidarity they all survive and mete out the violence necessary to do so. 

Assassination Nation is unique in that the girls are explicitly targeted because of their sexuality – usually, this aspect of the genre is left as subtext. But here, the trope is almost deconstructed by bringing both the reasons for their attack and subsequent defense to the surface. They become New Final Girls because, given the plot constraints, their only options are to transform themselves or die. 

© Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)

The New Final Girl is a natural evolution of the original trope. Stories are becoming more egalitarian, and with that comes a necessary examination of the moral dimension of the traditional way women are depicted on film. But in the end, all these Final Girls aren’t as different from each other as we might think. The virtuous distinction that we make between them is largely based on an old patriarchal frame that divides women into Madonnas and Whores, then kills the whores. Part of making the genre more progressive – or dare I say feminist – is rejecting that binary entirely.

Teenaged Laurie Strode and college-aged Tree Gelbman might have led different lives and made different choices, but when it came down to it, they both survived because they resolved to fight and refused to die. The haunting specter of violent masculinity came for all the women mentioned here, and they all triumphed, even under the restrictive gaze of a society that expects feminine perfection. But no matter how stark the contrast may be, these changes are progressive strides that honor the history of the slasher genre in inventive ways while bringing them into the contemporary moment. The Final Girl survived, but the New Final Girl thrives, and she’s ready to fight again another day.


Follow Catherine Young on Twitter @battymamzelle

It’s the time of year to leave out milk and cookies and upgrade that home security system, because Krampus is coming to town on Friday. The Adam Scott horror/comedy brings season’s beatings to a family who unwittingly unleash a yuletide demon upon their suburban household, and inspires this week’s 24 Frames: a picture collection of December-set movie thrills. We’re also presenting choices across all genres in this gallery, because everybody gets what they want on Christmas…EVEN SATAN.

While sitting on a Comic Con panel, Frank Miller was asked about the hold-up on Sin City 2. (Numerous times, probably.) And it looks like the celebrated author / artist / filmmaker is laying the blame solely at the feet of the Weinstein brothers.

Could it be that Grindhouse threw a monkey wrench into future Weinstein production plans? Sheer speculation on my part, but I’d have thought a Sin City sequel would be a no-brainer by this point. Then again, both Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez are presently hard at work on other projects — to say nothing of the large number of busy actors who’d be needed. So there’s probably enough "blame" to go around, really.

According to Dark Horizons, Mr. Miller "confirmed that he and Robert Rodriguez have a script ready – an adaptation of A Dame to Kill and some of the book’s other short stories — but left the cryptic hint that the Weinstein’s themselves are part of the hold up — likely tying into the fledgling distributor’s lack of success so far at the box-office."

OK, so the Weinsteins didn’t exactly set the world on fire with Grindhouse, Miss Potter, Bobby, The Matador, Derailed, Pulse, Breaking and Entering, Harsh Times, DOA: Dead or Alive, The Gathering, Unknown, The Ex, Nomad, School for Scoundrels, Black Christmas, Arthur and the Invisibles, or Factory Girl — but they’re doing OK with 1408 and Sicko. Plus they’ve got some treats in store (Grace Is Gone is excellent, The Mist sounds great so far) for later this year. And maybe someday they’ll actually release Killshot, Teeth and Rogue and make a few dollars off of ’em. Still it’s tough to feel bad for the guys who put money behind Who’s Your Caddy? and Hannibal Rising. Then again, Clerks 2 was pretty darn funny.

Anyway, yeah: Sin City 2. As the highway signs sometimes say: Expect delays.

Source: Dark Horizons

The final weekend of 2006 will see moviegoers catch up on a jam-packed slate of holiday leftovers as no new films open on Friday.

Look for the top ten to be filled with all the same movies as last weekend, although the award-winning musical "Dreamgirls" which opened nationally on Monday should climb higher on the charts in its first full weekend of wide release. With Christmas activites finished and New Year’s Eve celebrations only affecting late shows on Sunday night, ticket sales should be robust with most films seeing either small declines, or modest boosts in their four-day grosses.

Paramount and DreamWorks are enjoying their ride to the $100M mark with the critically acclaimed "Dreamgirls" which has just entered its second stage of release. The PG-13 musical began its run with an exclusive ten-day engagement in three theaters with $25 tickets that resulted in a lucrative $852,000. Then on Monday, the Jamie FoxxBeyonce Knowles pic expanded into 852 locations across North America for the Christmas holiday. Moviegoers rushed out and spent $8.7M for a stunning one-day average of $10,242 per theater. Tuesday saw sales drop 34% to $5.8M which still led to a remarkable two-day start of $14.5M and $17,051 average.

Thanks to strong reviews, solid starpower, Oscar buzz, and five Golden Globe nominations, "Dreamgirls" looks ready to make an even bigger splash this weekend with the long four-day holiday weekend. With the 1960s storyline bringing in older adults and young stars like Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson attracting teens and younger adults, the Bill Condon-directed film is bringing in business from all sectors. Competition for the African-American crowd will continue to come from Will Smith‘s "The Pursuit of Happyness," but the extended holiday period is giving fans the time to eventually see both. Long-term strength looks promising too as Paramount will expand the pic on January 12 into more than 2,000 theaters for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame. The expansion will also make the film easily accessible in all markets when Golden Globes are awarded on January 15. For the final weekend of the year, "Dreamgirls" may sing to the tune of about $22M and propel its cume to $47M with much more to come.


Foxx and friends in "Dreamgirls."

For those who are naughty and not nice, MGM offered up the horror remake "Black Christmas" on Monday. The R-rated pic about a killer who preys on a sorority house during the holidays bowed to a respectable $3.3M on Christmas Day and followed that up with a 46% drop on Tuesday to $1.8M for a two-day start of $5.1M from 1,258 theaters. Fright flicks usually do not do well at this time of year, but Wes Craven‘s "Scream" hits a decade ago made many studios wonder if they could also tap into riches when the target audience is on vacation and horror competition is low. "Black Christmas" should burn through much of its audience of high school and college kids during the week and have one last weekend of decent biz before fizzling away. A four-day tally of $7M could await giving the slasher flick $15M in eight days.


Four soon-to-be traumatized young ladies in "Black Christmas."

After directing the third "Harry Potter" extravaganza, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron returns to the screen with a much more mature film in "Children of Men." The futuristic drama takes place in London in 2029, eighteen years after the human race lost its ability to reproduce, and tells of a man who protects the only pregnant woman in existence. The R-rated drama starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine opened on Christmas Day with a powerful $180,000 from 16 theaters for a sensational $11,250 one-day average. Reviews have been strong for the Universal release which will add some more dates on Friday. "Children" has already grossed $32M overseas since its top spot debut in the U.K. in September and subsequent openings in Mexico, Europe, and other parts of the the world.


Michael Caine and Clive Owen in "Children of Men."

Also in limited release, Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, and Emily Watson star in "Miss Potter," a new biopic on the author of children’s book author Beatrix Potter. MGM is releasing this PG-rated film from Chris Noonan who has not directed a film since 1995’s "Babe." Zellweger nabbed a Globe nod in the Best Actress – Drama category.


Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter."

Acclaimed actresses Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett both earned Golden Globe nods for their performances in "Notes on a Scandal" which Fox Searchlight platformed on Wednesday. Also opening is the R-rated fairy tale "Pan’s Labyrinth" from Spain which is a Globe nominee in the foreign language category. Directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy," "Blade II"), the Picturehouse release bows on Friday and has already won other foreign lingo awards from various critics groups.


Judi Dench doesn’t take no mess from Cate Blanchett in "Notes on a Scandal."

The wide releases are the ones that hope to give the holiday season a boost over last year. The top five films from the crucial November-December corridor, as of the end of Christmas weekend, have grossed a combined $574M which is a considerable 25% drop from the corresponding films of 2005 which had tallied $766M at this point.

The limited release newcomers won’t be making much of a dent on the national scene. Among wide releases, last week’s champ "Night at the Museum" should remain in the number one spot for a second weekend in a row with Ben Stiller welcoming in 2007. The Fox comedy’s powerful $42.2M four-day debut was better than expected and pulled in significant business from the non-family crowd. With fantastic midweek grosses and "Dreamgirls" being the only new element of competition this coming weekend, "Museum" should easily continue as the most popular attraction. The PG-rated comedy followed up its stellar Xmas frame with a hefty $13.5M haul on Tuesday and hopes to get close to the $80M mark by the end of its first full week in theaters. The four-day New Year’s weekend could bring a gross of around $40M which would give the effects-driven pic a towering $120M after only 11 days.

Will Smith will try to hold onto the number two spot and fend off what should be a strong challenge from "Dreamgirls." "The Pursuit of Happyness" was bumped down to number three on Christmas Day thanks to the national opening of the acclaimed musical, but rose back up to the runnerup spot on Tuesday with $7.1M beating the $5.8M of "Dreamgirls." "Pursuit" raked in $68M in its first dozen days and will try to smash the century mark by the end of the holiday frame. Jamie Foxx and company will, however, provide some direct competition for African-American patrons. Feel-good movies should still be in demand so Smith could find himself with about $25M this weekend for "The Pursuit of Happyness" which would boost the cume to $106M.

In its first full week of release, Sylvester Stallone‘s underdog hit "Rocky Balboa" has punched up a solid $31.2M for MGM defying all odds. The PG-rated drama saw its biggest gross on its opening day last Wednesday as the built-in fan base came out early, but it still has been posting solid daily numbers of around $4-5M ever since. This weekend, "Rocky Balboa" might score another $16M over four days and see its winnings climb to $55M.

Universal has counterprogrammed all the feel-good family-friendly films with its espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" and has been banking some respectable numbers. With $18.3M in its first five days from just over 2,200 theaters, the Matt DamonAngelina Jolie drama has been holding its own as the adult alternative for serious moviegoers. A $13M gross over four days could await "The Good Shepherd" which would raise its sum to a decent but not spectacular $38M after 11 days.

LAST YEAR: The New Year’s frame looked suspiciously like the Christmas one with the notable musical chairs played by the top two pics. Disney’s "The Chronicles of Narnia" reclaimed the number one spot in its fourth weekend grossing $33.7M over four days inching up 6% from the prior session. After two weeks on top, Universal’s "King Kong" settled for second place and took in a four-day tally of $31.8M which was off 4% from the Santa frame. The combined cumes by the end of the weekend totaled a mammoth $401M. The two comedies that opened in third and fourth remained in their respective spots. Jim Carrey‘s "Fun With Dick and Jane" slipped 2% to $21M while Steve Martin‘s kidpic sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" climbed 23% to $18.9M. Rounding out the top five was Jennifer Aniston‘s "Rumor Has It" which collected $11.8M over four days in its first full weekend of release. It bowed on Christmas Day which fell on the previous Sunday. Moviegoers spent a staggering $188.8M on the Top 20 over four days to close out the 2005 movie year.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got the rise and fall of a girl group ("Dreamgirls," starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and Eddie Murphy) and some yuletide splatter ("Black Christmas," starring Michelle Trachtenberg). What do the critics have to say?

At the height of its powers, Motown was described by label head Berry Gordy as "the sound of young America." "Dreamgirls" is a musical about a fictional (but loosely based upon the Supremes) girl group’s rise and fall during the heady days when black pop first became the soundtrack for kids across the racial divide. An early Oscar favorite, "Dreamgirls" largely lives up to the hype, according to the pundits, with quality songs and strong performances from Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and especially "American Idol" castoff Jennifer Hudson. At 77 percent on the Tomatometer, "Dreamgirls" is Certified Fresh.


Eddie Murphy gets on up, like a sex machine…RIP James Brown.

Ah, the holiday season: a time for reflection, goodwill toward others… and piles of dead sorority girls. Nothing makes spirits bright quite like a remake of the 1975 proto-slasher "Black Christmas," which wasn’t screened for critics before hitting theaters on (surprise!) Christmas day. Well, since it opened, a few reviews have trickled in, and they’re not very nice. The plot: a group of sisters trapped inside a sorority house are picked off one-by-one by a prank-calling madman. While some critics say the film has flashes of sick wit, others say it’s too generic and too short on tension to generate scares. At 15 percent on the Tomatometer, "Black Christmas" is on the critics’ "naughty" list.


"Black Christmas": Far more sinister than your average panty raid.

Also opening this week in limited release: the Spanish period comedy "Unconscious" is at 100 percent; Guillermo Del Toro‘s eerie magic realist fantasy "Pan’s Labyrinth" is at 98 percent; "Children of Men," Alfonso Cuaron‘s dystopian sci-fi actioner starring Clive Owen, is at 94 percent; "Notes on a Scandal," a cat-and-mouse thriller starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, is at 82 percent; "Miss Potter," which explores the inner life of children’s author Beatrix Potter and stars Renee Zellweger, is at 71 percent; "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," Tom Tykwer‘s visually sumptuous serial killer film, is at 58 percent; and "The Dead Girl," a dark, multipart drama starring Toni Collette and Brittany Murphy, is at 50 percent.


Nothing says holiday cheer like a Spanish-language Freudian period sex comedy!

Recent Film Musicals:
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50% — Tenacious D: In the Pick of Destiny (2006)
48% — Rent (2005)
88% — Chicago (2002)
77% — Moulin Rouge (2001)
93% — Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Recent Horror Remakes:
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14% — The Wicker Man (2006)
13% — Pulse (2006)
27% — The Omen (2006)
48% — The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
10% — When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Welcome to Day Three of RT’s Five Days of Christmas Countdown, in which we serve up a different list each day of the best holiday flicks around. Today, we’ve got the best-reviewed holiday thrillers — a list that includes a proto-slasher, a cop/buddy flick, and a wrestling match between love and hate.

The holidays are here, and it’s time to break out the sleds, roast the chestnuts, and watch a movie or five about yuletide magic (or a decided lack thereof). And when in doubt regarding your best viewing for any occasion, as always, we’re here to help; the merry elves at Rotten Tomatoes have listed the Tomatometers, checked them twice, and will be presenting, during the Five Days of Christmas, the best-reviewed holiday films in the following categories: Classics, Comedies, Animated/Children’s, Dramas, and Thrillers. Pour yourself a cup of eggnog and get ready for some fine seasonal viewing!

Top Five Holiday Thrillers

All this holiday cheer is all well and good, but what if you like a few chills to go with your jingle bells? We’ve got just the five movies for you. Whether it’s running barefoot through shards of broken glass, Shelley Winters at the bottom of a lake, or sorority girls being hunted down by a murderous psychopath that strikes your yuletide fancy, you’ll find it here!

5) Black Christmas (1975) 63%

Think John Carpenter‘s "Halloween" invented the use of the killer’s-perspective shot? Nope — they’re all over the place in Bob Clark‘s "Black Christmas," released a full four years earlier. Not a film geek and don’t care? Not to worry, "Black Christmas" has lots to love, including the stunning Olivia Hussey (otherwise known as "The Hottest Juliet in the History of Film") and pre-fame versions of Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin. For its 32nd birthday, "Black Christmas" is receiving the big-budget remake treatment. It is bound to suck. Rent the original instead, and you’ll be likely to jump in terror the first time someone calls to wish you a merry Christmas.

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea
Directed by: Bob Clark

4) Gremlins (1984) 80%

"No exposure to bright light. Don’t get him wet. And never feed him after midnight." These would later go on to be helpful rules for taking care of young "Gremlins" star Corey Feldman, but in this holiday classic, they’re the three quick steps from cuddly Mogwai to leathery, troublemaking Gremlin. One of a series of mid-1980s kids’ classics from director Joe Dante, "Gremlins" is notable for helping to provoke the invention of the PG-13 rating, which seems laughably quaint if you compare its more violent bits with those of, say, "Spy Kids." (If viewed back-to-back with "The Santa Clause," "Gremlins" will make for a very Judge Reinhold Christmas. And there isn’t a thing wrong with that.)

Starring: Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates
Directed by: Joe Dante

3) Lethal Weapon (1987) 91%

This film’s connection to the season may seem rather tenuous, and we suppose it might be; that being said, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of a movie in which Christmas is celebrated immediately after Gary Busey receives a brutal, richly deserved public pummeling. Were the sequels necessary? Hardly, but that doesn’t make a dent in Richard Donner‘s steely direction, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover‘s easy chemistry, or Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton‘s terrific score.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
Directed by: Richard Donner

2) Die Hard (1988) 95%



Nothing says "Christmas" like sending a dead terrorist in a Santa cap down an elevator with a note saying "Ho, ho, ho. Now I’ve got a gun." After Bruce Willis killed his movie career with "Blind Date" and "Sunset," it was "Die Hard" that brought it back from the dead — while simultaneously reinventing large chunks of the entire action-movie genre. The sequels couldn’t help but be inferior (and it’s best not even to think about the upcoming "Die Hard 4.0"), but the first entry in the John McClane saga is a lean, mean action machine. Revisit Nakatomi Plaza this season and let the bullets fly all over again.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Directed by: John McTiernan

1) The Night of the Hunter (1955) 100%

Ah, noir for the holidays — there’s nothing like it. Christmas may not be the first thing on your mind when you watch the tale of murderous Harry Powell (played by Robert Mitchum) and his quest to learn the location of a treasure hidden by his dead prison cellmate, and in fact, there’s nothing terribly jolly about impersonating a preacher or marrying a woman to get at her kids. But if a bloody shiv in your stocking sounds like some primo Christmas cheer, "Night of the Hunter" will have you shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters
Directed by: Charles Laughton

Click here for Day Two: Top Five Seasonal Dramas
Click here for Day One: Top Five Yuletide Comedies

As horror movie remakes go, "Black Christmas" may be obscure enough that today’s audience doesn’t remember it. But just to be sure, the filmmakers are crafting a new ending to shock audiences. Even star Mary Elizabeth Winstead doesn’t know what the final release version will be.

“I really don’t know what to expect because they’ve been editing and reshooting and editing and changing things around,” she said. “So I’m going to be just as surprised as everyone else I think when the movie actually comes out. I think they reshot the ending and I’ve been kind of out of the loop because I’ve been working on other things, so I think the ending might actually be different than what I knew of.”

You’d think an actor would know if she went back to reshoot more scenes, but Winstead kept her involvement in the reshoots vague. “Well, I can’t say. They don’t want anyone to know who lives and who dies so I kind of stay out of that.”

"Black Christmas" is schedule for Christmas Day 2006. “Counter-programming I think is what they’re saying.”

Yet another horror remake is due to hit the screens before year’s end — but only by a few days. December 25th sees the release of "Black Christmas," Glen Morgan‘s remake of the 1974 Bob Clark semi-classic. And now there’s a teaser to prove it.

Plot synopsis: A crazed killer stalks a sorority house over Christmas break. Period. (Teaser trailer right here.)

The new version comes from Glen Morgan and James Wong, the genre-lovin’ duo who brought you "Final Destination," "The One," and the "Willard" remake (which I thought was actually pretty solid.)

Starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Katie Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kristen Cloke, Lacey Chabert, and Jessica Harmon (hey, it’s about a sorority house), "Black Christmas" hits the screens on, yep, Christmas Day.

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