tinseltown's holiday season

Violent Night’s theatrical release is an anomaly in a Christmas full of streaming

A week ahead of Avatar 2's release, most Christmas movies are heading straight to streaming platforms

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Not exactly a Christmas fairytale.
Not exactly a Christmas fairytale.
Image: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

Christmas viewing in theaters looks a little different this year.

The one film featuring Father Christmas in US movie theaters, Violent Night, is no romantic comedy or kids’ film. The Santa-Claus-meet-John-Wick gory dark comedy released on Dec. 2 and starring David Harbour of Stranger Things fame is an R-rated slasher flick. It’s made by Norwegian writer and director Tommy Wirkola, the creator of movies like zombie movie Dead Snow and the horror twist on folklore Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

It’s also one of the few holiday movies to get a proper theatrical run this festive season. Apple’s Spirited, the musical comedy based on the Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, released in theaters on Nov. 11, only to start streaming on Apple TV+ a week later.

Most Christmas movies are going straight to streaming this year. Banking on the smaller screen in the comfort of peoples’ homes makes sense: It’s why formulaic TV movies are released in abundance leading up to every December. This year, Lifetime has lined up 26 titles, and rival Hallmark 41.

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Plus, there’s a highly-anticipated movie that no one wants to compete with, Avatar: The Way of Water, releasing on Dec. 16.

Which new Christmas movies are available for streaming in December 2022

Apple TV+

  • Spirited: The musical comedy based on the Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol, starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds
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HBO Max

  • A Christmas Story Christmas: A 30-year follow-up to the beloved 1983 film A Christmas Story.
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Amazon Prime Video

  • Your Christmas or Mine?: It’s probably no Love Actually but the romantic comedy is expected to “warm” and “magical”.
  • Something from Tiffany’s: Two couples have their Christmas presents from Tiffany’s swapped, in a quirk rom-com,
  • There are also some older titles like A Unicorn for Christmas and A Lot Like Christmas that have newly released on Prime.
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Netflix

  • Falling for Christmas: A romantic comedy that marks Lindsay Lohan’s comeback.
  • The Noel Diary: A romantic holiday film that brings together a novelist cleaning out his childhood home at Christmas and a woman searching for her birth mother.
  • Scrooge: A Christmas Carol: Another Dickens’ adaptation like Spirited, but animated and genre-altering—a “psychedelic fever dream and quirky sci-fi,” according to one IMDb review.
  • Christmas With You
  • I Believe in Santa

Where’s the Disney+ holiday catalogue?

December is peak streaming time in the US as people spend more time at home. It’s a good time to drop all kinds of content, not just Christmas movies. Besides its slate of Christmas movies, Netflix is also releasing Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical for kids, and for adults, Robert Downey Jr. looks back on his late father in the documentary Sr.

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That’s not the case over at Disney. The streaming giant that’s overhauling management, ads, and more, doesn’t have a classic holiday movie release. Disney+ subscribers can find Enchanted sequel Disenchanted; animated movie Strange World, which follows a family of explorers who journey to a monster-crawling world, a Beatles documentary, and more.

Disney’s holiday season trump card is the sequel to James Cameron’s blockbuster hit Avatar, to which the entertainment giant has pinned millions of dollars-worth resources and hopes.

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One big number: Avatar: The Way of Water has to be a blockbuster

$2.05 billion: The amount of money the latest James Cameron outing has to earn to break even. If anyone can do it, Cameron can. Cameron’s first Avatar film from 2009 is the world’s highest grossing movie. The third movie on the list, Titanic, is also made by Cameron.

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