Thankfully, Elf on a Shelf wasn’t a thing when I
This list is not adjusted for inflation, and does not take into account home video/DVD sales and syndication…
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (2004): $73.8 million – Tim Burton’s claymation cult classic actually earned only $50 million when it opened. It was mis-marketed a bit as Disney wasn’t sure what to do with a movie about a skeleton kidnapping Santa. However, the success of the film over the years prompted Disney to re-release the film with a new 3D treatment, sending its box office over $73 million.
8. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006): $84.5 million – The success of the third Santa Clause film seemed to come out of nowhere, with very little fanfare or positive buzz surrounding the release. Martin Short’s wacky turn as Jack Frost helped the film boost its box office, but thankfully did not spawn another entry into the franchise.
7. Four Christmases (2008): $120.1 million – This poor film managed to rake in over $100 million despite the fact it was widely panned by critics. The star power of Vince Vaughn (in 2008) and Reese Witherspoon helped make this film number 1 for two weeks. Astounding.
6. A Christmas Carol (2009): 137.8 million – Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture animation adaptation starred Jim Carrey in the role of Scrooge. Although it has seemingly been forgotten around the holiday season, this mediocre version of the Charles Dickens classic was a big hit in late 2009.
5. The Santa Clause 2 (2002): $139.2 million – Some eight years after the release of the first Tim Allen comedy, Disney pumped out the first of two sequels. The wide span in time is worked into the plot, where Santa must find a mate within eight years or he becomes a regular man again. These films seem to print money.
4. The Santa Clause (1994): $144.8 million – Surprise, surprise, we are back with Tim Allen. This first film is actually rather fun and entertaining, and was a huge success in the fall/winter of 1994. It culminated with the success of Allen’s Home Improvement, making him one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood for a short while.
3. Elf (2003): $173.8 million – Here is the new Christmas classic for the younger generation, as Will Ferrell nails the role of an adopted elf on a search for his real father. The movie hit the sweet spot of Ferrell’s popularity and is hilarious to boot.
2. The Polar Express (2004): $183.4 million – Robert Zemeckis strikes again. Yet another of his animated films makes the list, this time a little more successfully. Tom Hanks is the centerpiece of this film that is growing into a quiet classic for children.
1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): $260 million – That’s right, this disaster is number one. Ron Howard’s live-action adaptation of the Seuss classic was dark and dreary and a little strange, but it nevertheless had the star power of Jim Carrey in its corner. That helped it, more than anything, become one of the highest grossing films of 2000.