Holiday Movie Fandom

Hallmark has turned holiday movies into a booming industry

Art by @cherchersketch
The Christmas Prince meets Olicity by @cherchersketch

Tis the season for holiday movies. Hallmark already has a countdown to holiday movies starting Oct. 25! That’s before Thanksgiving AND before Halloween!

You may be wondering why are holiday movies such a big deal? According to Statista, 40 percent of Americans are very likely to watch a holiday movie on a streaming device over the holiday season, with an additional 25 percent responding with somewhat likely. This means a majority of Americans are likely to watch holiday movies this season.

Each year, the holiday movie industry continues to grow along with its cult following. But despite its fanbase, holiday movies are still pretty polarizing – most people either hate them or love them.

Why are holiday movies so appealing?

As cheesy as holiday movies are, they are comforting and full of joy and love. And, to not sound cheesy, the movies are full of Christmas spirit – the one thing so many people lose sight of. These movies break down consumerism and expose human nature and what really matters. It’s not the number of presents under the tree, it’s the people you spend time with during the holidays. It’s not about the cookies you bake but about the memories you make while you make those delicious cookies.

There’s something simple and lovely about holiday movies. So much of our other media is filled with darkness and violence. It’s refreshing to watch something that is light and fluffy. There’s also something magical about holiday movies, whether it’s Santa Claus himself or a toy soldier coming to life. And, above all else, it’s nice to know ahead of time that the ending is going to be a happy one.

Plus, holiday movies are something the whole family can watch together.

Standard holiday movie formula

It’s pretty easy to be halfway into a holiday movie before you realize that it’s one you’ve already watched before. This is because the format is pretty much the same for each movie. There are really only a few main storylines.

A very common theme revolves around a failing business. Many times this business has something to do with Christmas, but sometimes it doesn’t. The business could be a toy company, a hotel/resort, ornament company, Christmas tree farm, bookstore, etc. In comes an executive to “save the day.” This executive is usually from a large city or has no plans to “save” the business. They intend to shut it down, sell it off, and make big dollars. But, then, the big city executive falls in love with someone who embodies the town and the business. Together, they find a way to save the town and the business, but not before they have a snowball fight or go ice skating, or attend a holiday festival.

Another common storyline is when a rich/snobby/spoiled person gets put in a situation where they have to interact with commoners. This spoiled person may have lost all their money and need to get a job for the first time, or they are told they need to get a better perspective on life and they go in disguise and live among the “commoners.” Often times, you guessed it, they fall in love with someone or have their eyes opened to the stories and struggles of people who don’t live as easy of a life as them. The rich character completely changes and ends up learning the true meaning of Christmas.

And then there’s the story that doesn’t even disguise that it’s a love story. A hardworking man or woman gets dumped just before the holidays. Usually, they then run into an ex or a rich person and a relationship blossoms. Sometimes the two initially hate each other and the relationship grows from there.

In addition to the typical storylines, there are also typical archetypes – magic, holiday spirit, and weather. Many holiday movies incorporate an all-knowing magical Santa Claus who helps grant wishes the main characters don’t even know they want and/or need yet.  

In holiday movies, there’s usually one person who has lost their holiday cheer. This could be because their business is closing, they were dumped just before the holidays, or something else. The story revolves around this character finding their way back to believing in the magic of the holidays.

Winter weather can also be the magical being and the weather can be its own character in many of these movies. There are snowstorms that leave two people who hate each other stranded together in the only hotel room available – typically a honeymoon suite. The two are forced to spend time together and explore the quaint small town and participate in the holiday festival.

No matter the plot, all holiday movies end happy, which is part of the appeal.

Holiday movies are everywhere

Every channel now seems to be creating holiday movies. Lifetime has been creating original holiday movies, and now Netflix and Hulu have also jumped in. In 2017, Netflix debuted two holiday movies, “A Christmas Prince” and “Christmas Inheritance.” Both movies performed so well that Netflix made a sequel to “A Christmas Prince” in 2018, as well as adding additional new original holiday movies to its roster. This year, Netflix is offering a third movie in its Christmas Prince series, which is expected to be as much of a hit as its first two.

But, no matter how popular the other outlets are getting, Hallmark is still the big hitter in terms of holiday movies.

Hallmark will be debuting 24 new movies this holiday season. Many of the movies feature well-known names like Jodie Sweeten and Candace Cameron Bure from “Full House” and “Fuller House,” Chad Michael Murray from “Gilmore Girls” and “One Tree Hill,” Adrian Grenier from “Entourage,” and Lacey Chabert from “Mean Girls.” Plus, powerhouse women Kristin Chenoweth and Dolly Parton. Some of the actors have had roles on “The Royals,” “Supernatural,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Dallas,” and more.

The holiday movie phenomenon has grown so much that Hallmark now has a Holiday Movie Checklist App, which I won’t lie, I’ve now downloaded, and religiously using this holiday season. There are also Hallmark holiday themed blankets, pillows, popcorn bowls, slippers, and more. It’s practically as bad as all the superhero merchandise that shows up in stores following the movie’s theatrical release.

The big screen is also getting in on the action, with “Last Christmas” coming out on Nov. 8. “Last Christmas” features Emilia Clarke who most know best for her role on “Game of Thrones” and Henry Golding who starred in “Crazy Rich Asians.” This movie is sure to have all the magic of the made-for-TV movies but with the big screen budget and production

Classic holiday movies are still a hit

If the made-for-TV holiday movies aren’t your thing, don’t worry, there are still tons of other great classic holiday movies you can watch. Some classics include: “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Home Alone,” “A Christmas Story,” “White Christmas,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and so many more.

Whether you’re watching a made-for-TV holiday movie, one from the big screen, or a classic, make sure to curl up with your loved ones and be reminded of the true meaning of the season.

About the Author
Alicia Chapman is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about lifestyle and entertainment trends. Her favorite shows to binge are The Handmaid’s Tale, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and anything Harry Potter. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @aliciahchapman or see more of her work at