I was in a store the other day and happened to walk past their Christmas stuff. They had on display all those little ceramic houses and figures that you see in a lot of places, but suddenly I saw something that made me stop. It was a little figure of a man surrounded by a woman and two small boys. The man was holding what looked like a fishnet-covered leg. Then it dawned on me: this was the famous scene from A CHRISTMAS STORY. I looked around - they had everything, the family's house and car, Ralphie in the bunny suit, Flick with his tongue stuck to the flagpole. It was funny and really not all that unexpected to see yet more merchandise from that movie. It got me thinking about the amount of money made from this one film that's now 26 years old. Perhaps it had some good box office and VHS sales, but those have to pale in comparison to what's happened since. Millions have been made on t-shirts, board games, lamps, clocks, bathrobes, bobble-heads, and probably almost
Yes, here it is again
anything else you could think. And, just like those little ceramic figurines, they seem to come up with something new every year.
Haven't you always wanted one of these for yourself?
Has there ever been a phenomenon like this before? A movie that continues to generate loads of dough so many years after its release? Sure, Disney makes tons on all its merchandise, even from the films that are nearly half a century old. But Disney's pretty much in a league of its own when it comes to merchandise. I do see a lot of WIZARD OF OZ junk for sale but that film's considered a classic. I guess for a lot of people A CHRISTMAS STORY is a classic but perhaps not in the traditional sense.
Why does it seem like this film is alone when it comes to merchandising? Why not, say, a movie like GHOSTBUSTERS? That came out a year after A CHRISTMAS STORY and for the most part is considered a much better and more popular movie. And sure, you see some GHOSTBUSTERS stuff in catalogues, but not nearly as much. It's frequently on
cable, but what about showing it non-stop on a day like Halloween? Are you listening, TNT?
Yep, those are A Christmas Story band-aids
Or maybe it's a just a Christmas thing. But movies like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET are shown every year and they don't have an endless array of products based on them. And even a comedy like NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION is on TV repeatedly this time of year but I can't recall ever seeing a t-shirt with Chevy Chase's face on it. (But maybe that's for the best).
And who's getting all this money? I doubt any of the actors had the foresight to sign a deal like the one Jack Nicholson signed for BATMAN to get a percentage of merchandise sales. And as for the principal actors, the Old Man, Darren McGavin has been dead for a few years; Mom, Melinda Dillon is currently making rather lame TV shows; Randy, Ian Petrella, hasn't done anything since 2006 (when he was listed as "Chainsmoker" for a film called POSTER BOY.) And as for Ralphie, Peter
Billingsley, only lately has he emerged again, appearing in bit parts in THE BREAK-UP and IRON MAN, and directing COUPLES RETREAT. Something tells me that if they were getting a piece of that leg-lamp money, they'd all be much better off (expect perhaps for McGavin).
If only they'd gotten a piece of the action
And as for A CHRISTMAS STORY itself, I can't even watch it anymore. I think it's funny how it's run for 24 hours and I've heard people say they'll flip it on and just keep it on all day. But I'm tired of it. I can't even recall sitting down to watch it that many times but somehow I know all of the quotes and funny moments by heart, as if just by the movie playing all the time it's seeped into my subconscious.
So, I ask again, what makes this movie so special? I honestly can't figure it out. But, as I sip my officially licensed A CHRISTMAS STORY cocoa from my A CHRISTMAS STORY mug and lay my feet (clad in A CHRISTMAS STORY slippers) on my coffee table, next to my giant leg lamp, it's something I'll continue to ponder.
email this column to a friend
Comment on this Column:
|Sorry, you must be a member to add comments to columns.|
Join or Login.
Subscribe to MatchFlick Movie Reviews through RSS
Every other Tuesday
Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.|
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.|