Understand how the Christmas movie industry dominated streaming

When this time of year arrives, Celeste Oliveira, 63, doesn’t even have to think too much when choosing a movie to watch at home: it’s going to be a movie about Christmas. “I love. I liked to watch it with my daughters and now with my granddaughters”, she says, who usually resorts to streaming platforms. “I am delighted with the decorations. If I could, I would buy 300 blinkers and follow the cookie, housekeeping, family reunion traditions. I think it inspires people. They are stories of family, forgiveness and love. I am extremely romantic and I think it’s beautiful, ”she says.

Celeste is not alone. Christmas movies have always been around in some form, but they’ve never been as accessible as they are now. In recent years, the weeks leading up to the holiday season have become time for specifically enjoying Christmas movies. Only Netflix must have included, by the end of November this year, at least eight new productions in the catalog.

It opens until the last day of the month, with Um Natal Cheio de Amor, a Brazilian production starring Sergio Malheiros and Gkay. In December, there’s more: there will be at least seven other new films, in addition to two Christmas series. Other streaming services are following suit – from Disney+ to Prime Video, all have already announced new additions for subscribers, in addition to available classics from previous years.

There’s always been a demand for Christmas movies – and they’re not exactly new. The difference is that they are increasingly using streaming services, which operate based on a logic of non-linear and on-demand catalogues, according to researcher Maíra Bianchini, PhD in Contemporary Communication and Culture and professor at Estude Séries, an analysis project , reflection and discussion about TV series and streaming.

“In this case, the audience can see and rewatch as many Christmas films as they want and prolong the good feelings evoked by these works, which are usually comforting and welcoming”, says she, who studies the performance of these platforms in the audiovisual market.

For her, the greater investment in releasing new works every year is proof that the demand for these films is high. “This well-being evoked by Christmas movies is enhanced by the very moment of closing a year and starting a new one, in which we long for this feeling of renewing hope and strengthening the connection with the people we love”, adds Maíra.

Although the streaming fever is recent, it is not today that Christmas movies have become a lucrative business. According to Professor Lucas Ravazzano, doctor in Communication and Culture and researcher in the field of cinema, since Hollywood established itself as an industry, Christmas films began to be produced, even between the 1940s.

A Felicidade Não Se Compra, one of the first Christmas classics, was released in 1946 and since then, classic that it is, it has been continuously repeated during the end of year festivities. The same thing happens with the first version of O Milagre da Rua 34, which here in Brazil won the Portuguese title of De Ilusion, Also Lives, in 1947.

“This idea of ​​Christmas films was born almost with the industry itself, mainly with sound cinema that was consolidated there at the end of the 1930s and, in 1930, it became the standard. In the 1940s, we had great Christmas films that are in the memory until today and they already had remakes, imitations”, explains.

A possible difference between the films released by the cinema and by streaming platforms would be precisely the budget, in the professor’s assessment. While the feature films that go to the cinema can count on big budgets, those on platforms usually go the other way.

“A good part of the budget goes to the fee, which is not cheap. On Netflix, there will be Vanessa Hudgens’ Christmas films, which did not reach the stardom of some High School Musical colleagues, such as Zac Efron. Lindsay Lohan, who was a card left out of the deck for a long time, is now returning in the Christmas movie that premiered on Netflix”, exemplifies. While Vanessa Hudgens has at least four Christmas productions that carry the ‘Netflix original’ seal, such as the series The Princess and the Plebeia, Lohan returned to acting in A Christmas Crush, released this month, after almost a decade without performances. of prominence.

In addition, films initially designed for cinema also have more budget for production and distribution, as researcher Maíra Bianchini points out. This leads to higher expected return on investment targets. “Another factor that can influence the technical result concerns how much the film deals with more fantasy or magical elements, which is also common in this type of production and which demands a larger budget for special effects”, she adds.

The audience for these Christmas movies is no different than the audience for any other film genre. According to Professor Lucas Ravazzano, narrative genres tend to carry worldviews and, therefore, it is not uncommon for them to be consumed by a type of ritual confirming sociability and the culture they represent. By this logic, a romance film, for example, represents an ideal of confirmation of romantic love. In the case of Christmas, there is still a certain ‘comfort movie’ bias – that is, those works that the person already knows how it is, but ends up watching to feel good. As the literal translation says, it is a film that gives comfort.

“In this perspective, I would say that interest, in a way, comes from this ritual of confirmation about what Christmas is, what family is, what love is, what friendship is, fraternity, these Western Judeo-Christian values. They are films that always have these positive messages and that make us emotional even if we manage to predict the end of all the characters in five minutes”, he adds.

For researcher Maíra Bianchini, the films are also linked to feelings that tend to be common at the end of the year, such as renewal and hope, as well as reunions with family and friends. The covid-19 pandemic and other episodes of political and social tension may have contributed to this feeling during this period.

“Christmas films dialogue with all these feelings and, therefore, tend to tell family and romantic stories. In this sense, it is interesting to note that there have been romantic Christmas comedies that address LGBTQIA+ characters, for example, such as Someone Warn? and A Crush for Christmas, which welcome a greater diversity of experiences within these universal themes of Christmas films”, it says.

Someone Warns?, which features Kristen Stewart (Bella, from the Twilight Saga) in the cast, was released in 2020, is available on Prime Video. Already A Crush for Christmas was one of Netflix’s originals in 2021.

In addition to the original productions on streaming platforms and the cinema films that are also available there, there is a heavy investment in films made directly for television. In the United States, it is common for local cable television channels to produce lower-budget works focused on commemorative dates.

One of the exponents of this type of film is the Hallmark Channel, a channel linked to the Hallmark chain of stores, specializing in cards and products for commemorative seasons. Each year, starting in October, Hallmark releases around 40 new Christmas movies. Some of Netflix’s November premieres, for example, are his, like 12 Christmas Gifts and In Christmas Land, available from the 1st.

“These are much more sugary films, which appeal to a very large melodramatic excess. They adhere more to certain conventions, not only narrative, but social. These are films that risk little”, explains professor Lucas Ravazzano. For the teacher, however, the criteria for evaluating whether a Christmas movie is good or not depend a lot on the viewer. It will depend on how much a given plot touches each person, including aspects such as religiosity and spirituality: “Perhaps something that, dramaturgically, is not so good, pleases someone because it touched, reminded a relationship with a relative or a conflicting situation that was concentrated at Christmas “.

In the opinion of researcher Maíra Bianchini, Christmas works touch on subjective issues. “I think what is most relevant is how much these works mobilize our feelings (mainly positive feelings) and how much they contribute to us being able to process the events that are coming to an end at the end of the year and to renewing our hope that, thus as predictably happens in Christmas movies, everything will work out in the coming new year”, he adds.

Happiness can’t be bought
Synopsis: In Bedford Falls, at Christmas, George Bailey, a man who has always helped everyone, is about to commit suicide when he is saved by a would-be angel spirit.
Release year: 1946
Where to watch: Prime Video and Telecine.

They forgot me
Synopsis: Kevin’s family, an eight-year-old boy, accidentally leaves him at home for the Christmas break. He has to do the shopping and cooking, until burglars try to break into his house.
Release year: 1990
Where to see: Disney+

Love doesn’t take a vacation
Synopsis: During the Christmas holidays, two women decide to switch houses and end up having consequences for their love lives.
Release year: 2006
Where to watch: Apple TV, Netflix, Prime Video and Telecine.

Jack’s wierd world
Synopsis: The King of Halloween, Skeletor Jack, tries to take control of Christmas.
Release year: 1993
Where to see: Disney+

The Grinch
Release year: 2000
Where to watch: Apple TV, Google Play Filmes, Globoplay, Netflix and Prime Video

Santa’s diary
Synopsis: Back at the house where he spent his childhood, a writer meets a woman in search of answers.
Release year: 2022
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

Something from Tiffany’s
Release year: 2022 (from December 9)
Synopsis: When a simple mix of gifts causes their paths to cross, a series of twists and turns leads couples to where they really should be.
Where to watch: Prime Video (platform original)

A Christmas crush
Synopsis: A spoiled heiress loses her memory in an accident and ends up in the care of a hapless widower and his daughter during the Christmas season.
Release year: 2022
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

christmas with you
Synopsis: A pop star in search of inspiration fulfills a fan’s wish and ends up finding love.
Release year: 2022
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

A crush for Christmas
Synopsis: Peter asks his best friend to pretend to be his boyfriend for Christmas. Plans and feelings change when his family tries to play matchmaker.
Release year: 2021
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

Christmas in Evergreen (all)
Synopsis: The annual film series takes place in the town of Evergreen, which is famous for having a magical snow globe capable of granting wishes. With each film, there are new protagonists, in addition to the characters already known. In 2020, the fourth feature was released, but it is not yet available on Brazilian streams.
Release year: 2017 to 2019
Where to watch: Prime Video and Globoplay (original Hallmark Channel)

bespoke Christmas
Synopsis: An architect is going to receive his family for Christmas and hires a coordinator for the event. But he didn’t imagine that she would bring so much light to his life.
Where to watch: Netflix, Globoplay and Paramount+ (original Hallmark Channel)

3 Christmas series to watch:

my daddy is still santa
Synopsis: After three decades, Scott Calvin considers retiring as Santa Claus.
Release year: 2022
Where to see it: Disney+ (platform original)

i hate christmas
Synopsis: A single nurse tells her family she has a boyfriend – and has 24 days until Christmas to find one. Italian version of the Norwegian series Christmas Boyfriend.
Release year: 2022 (available from December 7th).
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

dash and lily
Synopsis: Over the Christmas period, Dash and Lily exchange messages and challenges in a notebook that they leave in different parts of New York.
Release year: 2020
Where to watch: Netflix (platform original)

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