Netflix says “The Christmas Chronicles” is Kurt Russell’s biggest movie ever

Netflix doesn’t release viewership numbers, but claimed “The Christmas Chronicles” is the biggest movie of Kurt Russell’s career.

Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos discuss the movie. Which debut last month, at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Monday. It stars Russell as a “savvy, straight-talking” Santa Claus. Who teams up with young siblings to save Christmas after the pair crash his sleigh.

Sarandos said that, according to Russell, “The Christmas Chronicles” had the “most impact”. That of any of the actor’s movies after its release.

“It’s because, even in his successful career. He’s never had that many people see one of his movies in the first week ever,” Sarandos said. “That’s a testimony to what we can bring to the market for storytellers today. That we couldn’t have ten years ago.”

According to Sarandos, “The Christmas Chronicles” had 20 million views in its first week.

“If every one of those was a movie ticket purchase, that’s a $200 million opening week,” he said. “Even movies that go on to $1 billion don’t typically do that in the first week.”

But since Netflix doesn’t release concrete viewing data. We don’t know how many of those views are repeat viewings. Or how many people watch the entire movie.

For comparison’s sake, according to Box Office Mojo. Russell’s biggest theatrical release in the US before inflation is Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” last year. The movie score $146.5 million in its opening weekend and $183 million in its first week. It went on to gross almost $390 million domestically and $863 million globally. His biggest movie worldwide is “Furious 7” in 2015, which grosse over $1.5 billion total.

Director Clay Kaytis’ “The Christmas Chronicles” isn’t going to make audiences believe in the power of Christmas. Let alone stoke the spirit of the holiday season. But boy does it exhaust itself trying. The family-friendly adventure, about two kids whose Christmas Eve mission to capture Santa Claus (Kurt Russell). That leads to helping him save the holiday, plays like a love letter to producer Chris Columbus’ previous. That works without ever distinguishing itself. With its saccharine score, saturate cinematography, and trite platitudes. The film is formulaic and forgettable except for Russell’s performance as the lovable legend.

Christmastime used to be a season filled with warmth, laughter and love in the cozy Pierce home.

But since dad Doug (Oliver Hudson) died in a tragic firefighting accident, single mom Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). She has been scrambling to restore some normalcy to her fracture family. One member who is absolutely excite for Santa’s return is precocious 10-year-old Kate (Darby Camp).

She gets hype for the holidays by reminiscing over home movies and recording her “Dear Santa” letter on the family’s old camcorder. Her older rebellious teen brother Teddy (Judah Lewis), on the other hand, is not nearly as thrill. Not only is he still grieving the loss of his father and hanging out with the wrong crowd. He’s also lost the belief that Santa exists.

The siblings’ world turns upside down once Kate unearths old video footage of an arm — possibly belonging to Saint Nick — tossing presents under their tree. She hatches a plan to get Santa on camera for online acclaim. In order to do this, she ropes Teddy into her scheme, blackmailing her brother with footage of him and his friends boosting a car. Instead of waiting for Santa to come to them, Kate and Teddy stow away on his high-tech sleigh.

Their ride-along of a lifetime quickly descends into calamity when they cause Santa to lose his concentration. His never-ending red velvet sack of presents, and the magic hat that allows him to spring from rooftop to rooftop.

With his sleigh damaged, those lost items strewn about Chicago, and a ticking clock on the night’s deliveries. Santa and the kids team up to save the world from losing their Christmas spirit. Only it’s the audience who loses their spirit as the hijinks unfold.

Kaytis and screenwriter Matt Lieberman rip a page from Columbus’ playbook by setting the majority of the film in Chicago. But also by rehashing similar scenarios from “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Home Alone.” There’s even a blues-theme musical number, “Santa Claus Is Back in Town,” sung by Russell with backup band Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul. Which is almost as lively as “Babysitter’s Blues,” courtesy of Russell’s magnetism, charisma, and innate likeability. The star makes the unfolding shenanigans tolerable, playing Santa as a kind of jovial emcee with sincerity, pathos, and gravitas.

The narrative follows a predictable path and fails to mine the “fish out of water” scenarios it sets up. That like the irony of stealing a car from a car thief, or the hilarity of the kidnapping that’s misunderstood by the police. This situational absurdity may have look good on paper, but isn’t execute with any zest or zing. Plus, we could also live without the groan-worthy and worn-out line about Santa’s fame “Ho, ho, ho” being “fake news.”


Rating: NR
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family
Directed By: Clay Kaytis
Stars: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis
On Disc/Streaming: Nov 22, 2018
Studio: Netflix


Melanie McFarland
The film’s no great shakes, but Russell’s star power in “The Christmas Chronicles” is a gift anyone should be happy to claim.

Ed Potton
This festive family adventure for Netflix leaves you with a hyperglycaemic glow, and that’s mainly down to Kurt Russell as the most likeable Santa Claus in years.

Fausto Ponce
The protagonists are not interesting characters, and the situations in which they are involved lack dramatic tension.

Federico Furzan
A modern take on a classic tale that serves as an enjoyable saturday morning flick. A lovely movie.

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