Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.
When it comes to Christmas films, everyone has their thoughts on what are some of the best and most beloved titles. It's interesting to look at the movies that succeeded at the box office and made the most money. Though flicks like 1983's A Christmas Story is a cherished Christmas classic, it is not actually one of the most lucrative films. Let's take a look at the top ten highest-grossing Christmas films in the United States.
10. Four Christmases (2008)
Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn star as a couple visiting all four of their divorced parents' homes on Christmas Day. Each household is full of difficult and unique characters, naturally causing chaos to ensue. Despite mixed reviews from critics and a lackluster Rotten Tomatoes score of 24%, the holiday film still had a domestic gross of $120.1 million on a budget of $80 million. Four Christmases also went on to garner a worldwide gross of $163.7 million.
Domestic Box Office: $120.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $163.7 million
9. A Christmas Carol (2009)
The Robert Zemeckis-helmed A Christmas Carol features impressive animation and 3D effects, as well as an all-star voice cast including Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. The film is Disney's retelling of the Charles Dickens's 1843 story of the same-name. Carrey voiced both Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Despite a mixed reaction from critics and 54% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the film grossed $137.8 million domestically and $325.3 million worldwide, against a budget of between $175-$200 million.
Domestic Box Office: $137.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $325.3 million
8. The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
2002's The Santa Clause 2 was the follow-up to the hit 1994 film, and saw the return of its lead Tim Allen as well as the main cast. After a successful 8 years as Santa Claus, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) must return home when his son Charlie is placed on the naughty list. It also follows Scott's quest to find a new wife by Christmas Eve. The sequel earned $139.2 million on a budget of $65 million, and earned a worldwide gross of $172.9 million with an approval rating of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Domestic Gross: $139.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $172.9 million
7. The Santa Clause (1994)
1994's The Santa Clause was directed by John Pasquin and featured Tim Allen in the titular role, which he would reprise for its two sequels. The film tells the tale of an ordinary man who must become Saint Nick after he accidentally causes the original to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve. Both the director Pasquin and Allen previously had teamed up on the hit show Home Improvement. With a budget of $22 million, The Santa Clause earned $144 million domestically and had a worldwide gross of $189.8 million. The film was generally well-received by critics and also had a 74% Rotten Tomatoes score, with Tim Allen earning much praise.
Domestic Box Office: $144 million
Worldwide Gross: $189.8 million
6. Elf (2003)
Jon Favreau's 2003 Christmas comedy Elf features a talented cast including Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel and Mary Steenburgen. It centers on Buddy (Ferrell), a human who was adopted and raised as an elf by Santa's elves, as he travels to New York City to find his father (Caan). Elf was both a critical and commercial success, grossing $173.4 million domestically on a budget of $33 million. It currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 83% and grossed an impressive $220.4 million worldwide, becoming a beloved Christmas classic.
Domestic Box Office: $173.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $220.4 million
5. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)
1992's follow-up to the mega-successful Home Alone features Macaulay Culkin reprising his role as the rowdy Kevin McCallister, as well as the return of the Wet/Sticky Bandits Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern). The sequel takes place a year after the first, and features Kevin boarding the wrong plane and ending up in New York City, once again battling his foes. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was the second most financially successful film of 1992, earning $173.6 million in the US and a worldwide total of $359 million. Though it only earned a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 32%, the film still was a box office success and has since become a Christmas classic.
Domestic Box Office: $173.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $359 million
4. The Polar Express (2004)
Nominated for three Academy Awards and listed in the Guinness World Book of Records in 2006 for being the first all-digital capture film, The Polar Express features Tom Hanks in 6 distinct roles, including the conductor and narrator. The animated film had a production budget of $165 million, an outstanding sum at the time. The Christmas movie was given a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 56% and a rare CinemaScore audience rating of an A+. It earned $187.2 million domestically (including IMAX re-releases) and had a worldwide gross of $311.3 million.
Domestic Box Office: $187.2 million (Including IMAX re-releases)
Worldwide Gross: $311.3 million
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Esteemed director Ron Howard teamed up with the hilarious Jim Carrey to present the first Dr. Seuss book adapted to a full-length feature film. With Carrey starring as the titular character and an impressive cast including Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski and Molly Shannon, the film opened in 2000 and spent 4 weeks at the top of the domestic box office. During its theatrical run, How the Grinch Stole Christmas earned $260 million domestically and $85.1 million internationally, for a worldwide gross of $345.1 million.
Domestic Box Office: $260 million
Worldwide Gross: $345.1 million
2. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)
In the third screen adaption of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, 2018's The Grinch features the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson and follows the titular character (Cumberbatch) as he plots to ruin Whoville's Christmas. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 59%, and though critic reviews were mixed, The Grinch went on to earn an impressive $270.6 million domestically and a massive $511.6 million worldwide. It surpassed Home Alone as the highest-grossing Christmas film of all time worldwide, and is the second highest-grossing domestically in the US.
Domestic Box Office: $270.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $511.6 million
1. Home Alone (1990)
The beloved Christmas classic follows eight year old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left behind when his family travels to Paris for their Christmas vacation. The rambunctious and equally resourceful Kevin must then battle with the "Wet Bandits": two burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern). With a budget of $18 million, Home Alone went on to earn a whopping $476.7 million worldwide and $258.8 million domestically. Despite its mixed reviews, the film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 65% and is often cited as one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. It is the highest earning Christmas film domestically in the US, and second highest worldwide.
Domestic Box Office: $285.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $476.7 million
© 2019 Rachel M Johnson
Jacqueline G Rozell on November 07, 2019:
A Christmas Carol. Lots of good Christmas movies but for me nothing beats this one.