Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without digging out a few of those classic festive movies we’ve all come to know and love.
From Home Alone and Elf through to Love Actually and The Grinch, there’s something about seasonal stories on the big screen that keeps us coming back to them time and time again, every single Christmas.
But while you might laugh, cry and cheer at the actions onscreen, just how much do you know about what went on behind the scenes of your festive favourites?
Take a look at our list of fantastic facts you never knew about some of the most popular Christmas films of all time…
1 Will Ferrell wasn’t the first choice to play Buddy the Elf
Jim Carrey was originally in line to play the role of Buddy The Elf made so famous by Will Ferrell in Elf. Except given how long it took the film to get made (the script originally surfaced in 1993 and took over a decade to reach screens) things changed a little, with the Anchorman star stepping in instead.
2 Love Actually left out a couple of its storylines, actually
Love Actually might have charmed us all year after year with its festive storylines, but there were two others which were filmed but never made it to the finished movie. One took the movie to Kenya, and followed a couple who had supported each other through a famine. The other was a tearjerking story involving the headmistress (Anne Reid) of the school that hosted the Christmas concert in the film, and her terminally ill lover Geraldine – who was to be played by Frances de la Tour.
3 Home Alone 2 made the Plaza quite popular
Home Alone 2 prompted families to flock to New York’s famous Plaza hotel where, for $1,100 (£828) they could stay in the room where much of the action took place – dubbed ‘Kevin’s suite’ in honour of the film.
4 The Santa Clause’s phoneline wasn’t quite family friendly
The festive hit The Santa Clause ran into a spot of bother after it became apparent that 1-800 SPANK ME, an adult phone line referenced by Tim Allen’s character in the film, is real – leading to younger viewers bombarding the line with calls. Unsurprisingly, the line has since been cut from DVD and Blu-ray versions (and most likely the version that airs on TV every Christmas).
5 Miracle On 34th Street was a summer blockbuster
Although it was actually a Christmas movie, the original Miracle On 34th Street was released in the summer of 1946. Star Maureen O’Hara explained that studio chief Darryl Zanuck ‘wasn’t sure it would be a success, so he released it in June, when movie attendance is highest, rather than wait for Christmas’. Not that it seems to have done the classic much harm.
6 Robert Zemeckis had a throwback to his childhood in The Polar Express
‘11344 Edbrooke,’ as referenced by the Conductor in the Polar Express, is actually a reference to director Robert Zemeckis’ childhood home.
7 Will Ferrell suffered side effects from eating all that sugar in Elf
Will Ferrell wound up with headaches and insomnia from all the sweet stuff he had to eat while filming Elf – including maple syrup-covered spaghetti and cotton wool balls which were actually made out of candyfloss.
‘That was tough. I ingested a lot of sugar in this movie and I didn’t get a lot of sleep,’ he explained. ‘I constantly stayed up. But anything for the movie.’
8 Die Hard had a profound effect on Bruce Willis’ hearing
Some of the gunshots in Die Hard were so loud that Bruce Willis lost two-thirds of the hearing in one of his ears during filming. But he managed to saved his feet from damage by wearing rubber boots during scenes which requred him to run over broken glass.
9 Jim Carrey nearly quit The Grinch due to the make-up
Jim Carrey’s make-up and prosthetics he wore in the film version of The Grinch took eight and a half hours to apply on the first day, with the funnyman comparing it to being ‘buried alive’.
Speaking on The Graham Norton show in 2014 he explained that he almost quit the movie as a result, only managing to get through it after producer Brian Grazer brought in an expert in ‘teaching CIA operatives how to endure torture’. ‘
10 Bad Santa doesn’t skimp on the swearing
You might not want to settle down around the TV with the grandparents and the kids for a screening of Bad Santa this Christmas – as the film uses the F-word no less than 147 times. Still, at least it has a fairly harmless-sounding title in this country – as opposed to in the Czech Republic, where it was released under the name Santa Is A Pervert.
11 The tarantula in Home Alone is no fake
Spare a thought for Home Alone star Daniel Stern – because while the prop department originally created a fake tarantula to use during the scene where Kevin places the arachnid on Marv’s face, they decided in the end to use a real tarantula, named Barry.
Stern addressed the issue in a lengthy Facebook post back in 2015, when he recalled: ‘I asked if his poison had been removed, and was told that if the poison was removed, Barry would die. I said, “Right, but if the poison isn’t removed, then I’m gonna die. See where I’m going here?!” “Just don’t make any sudden, threatening moves and you’ll be fine.” “But I’m going to be screaming in Barry’s face. Do you think he’ll feel threatened by that?!” “Barry doesn’t have ears. He can’t hear. Relax.’
12 The Holiday features a genuine home swap website
Home Exchange, the website which Iris and Amanda (Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) use to book their home swap in The Holiday is real. However, Rosehill Cottage, where much of the movie takes place, was built specially for the film and so you won’t find it on the site.
13 It’s A Wonderful Life wasn’t so popular when it was released
It’s A Wonderful Life might be one of the best loved festive films of all time now, but the movie actually bombed at the box office when it was first released in 1946. In fact it was such a flop that Franz Capra lost out to the tune of half a million dollars, and was almost unable to make his next film.
14 The Nightmare Before Christmas 2? Don’t hold your breath
Don’t expect to see a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas any time soon – as Tim Burton has said he has no plans to revisit Jack Skellington and co.
‘I was always very protective of [‘Nightmare’], not to do sequels or things of that kind,’ Burton told MTV in 2006.
‘You know, ‘Jack visits Thanksgiving world’ or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it.’
15 The department store in the Miracle On 34th Street remake doesn’t exist
US department store Macy’s refused to grant permission for their name to be used in the 1994 remake of Miracle On 34th Street, which starred Mara Wilson and Sir Richard Attenborough. Which is why much of the film is set around a fictional department store named Cole’s instead.
16 Jim Henson never lived to see The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first Muppet movie made after the sad death of the characters’ creator Jim Henson, who passed away in 1990. It was also the first film to feature Steve Whitmire as the voice of Kermit the Frog.
17 Is The Santa Clause’s Tim Allen actually Father Christmas?
Tim Allen had to stay in character during filming of The Santa Clause 2 – because some of the film’s younger stars really did believe he was Father Christmas.
Speaking to the BBC’s Film programme in 2002 he explained: ‘The elves would gaze at me all day long and ask me ridiculous questions about Christmas. The older ones, who were 13 or 14, would say “that’s not Santa, that’s an actor”. I’d say “Are you sure I’m an actor? Are you sure you want to irritate Santa?”.’
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