Christmas 2018: Holiday-themed movies in theaters

December 1, 2018

by Carla Hay

There are numerous Christmas-themed movies available to watch on TV, computers or mobile devices, but for Christmas 2018, there are a select number of these movies that will be released in theaters in December.  Christmas-themed movies released before December 2018 that should still be in theaters during the Halloween season include “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” and “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Here are the movies that have a December 2018 release:

Information in this article is about U.S. releases.


“Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker 2018”

“The Nutcracker,” the ultimate Christmas ballet, will get a big-screen showcase when the Bolshoi Ballet performs it on December 23. Fathom Events will present the show in cinemas later that day. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.


“A Christmas Story”

Based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, the 1983 comedy “A Christmas Story,” directed by Bob Clark, has been a classic staple of holiday TV viewing for decades, but Regal Cinemas will be giving people a chance to see the movie in theaters on December 8, while Alamo Drafthouse will have the movie at various dates and locations in December. The movie, which is rated PG, stars Peter Billingsley as the 9-year-old hapless kid Ralphie Parker, who dreams of getting his ideal Christmas gift: a Red Ryder Carbine Action Air Rifle.

“Die Hard”

The 1988 movie that made Bruce Willis a mega-star is also considered the most famous action Christmas movie. In “Die Hard,” directed by John McTiernan, Willis plays cop John McClane, who battles terrorists who have taken an office Christmas party hostage. Alamo Drafthouse is having screenings of “Die Hard,” which is rated R, at various times and locations in December.


In this 2003 blockbuster comedy, Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a child-like man who was accidentally left on the North Pole as an infant and raised by elves. When Buddy discovers that he is a human, not an elf, he travels to New York in search of his biological father (played by James Caan), who is a cold-hearted businessman. “Elf,” which is rated PG, was directed by Jon Favreau, who has a role in the movie. The cast also includes Zooey Deschanel and Bob Newhart.  Alamo Drafthouse and iPic Theaters will have “Elf” on various dates in December, while Regal Cinemas is bringing back “Elf” on December 22. Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from November 30 to December 6.

“Jim Henson’s Holiday Special”

Two of the late Jim Henson’s beloved specials have been remastered and are coming to the big screen: “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” and “The Bells of Fraggle Rock.” The event includes an all-new featurette with a special guest. Fathom Events is presenting “Jim Henson’s Holiday Special” in theaters on December 10 and December 16. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

“The Holiday”

In this Nancy Meyers-directed 2006 romantic comedy, two lovelorn women— meek Iris Simpkins (played by Kate Winslet) and workaholic Amanda Woods (played by Cameron Diaz)—decide to temporarily swap their homes during the Christmas holiday season. Iris’ home is in England, while Amanda’s home is in Los Angeles. While at each other’s homes, Iris meets Miles Dumont (played by Jack Black) who is the assistant of Amanda’s ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, Amanda meets Iris’ brother Graham (played by Jude Law). Naturally, unexpected romantic sparks fly, but will these new couples survive the reality that each partner lives in another country? Alamo Drafthouse is having screenings of “The Holiday,” which is rated PG-13, at various times and locations in December.

“Home Alone”

Macualey Culkin’s most famous movie is one of the most beloved Christmas movies that appeals to many generations of people. In the 1990 comedy, directed by Chris Columbus, Culkin plays 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left behind at home when his family goes on a Christmas vacation to Paris. When two burglars (played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) break into the house, it’s up to Kevin to defend himself and the family home. Alamo Drafthouse is having screenings of “Home Alone,” which is rated PG, at various times and locations in December. Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from November 30 to December 6.

“Love Actually”

This 2003 British romantic comedy directed by Richard Curtis is considered a modern classic. With an all-star cast that includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson, “Love Actually” tells the story of people looking for love during Christmas and who are more connected to each than it would seem at first glance. Alamo Drafthouse is bringing back “Love Actually,” which is rated R, at various times and locations throughout the month of December. Everyone who buys a ticket for the movie will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes in which the winner will get a trip for two to Las Vegas to see Mariah Carey’s show at the MGM Grand and get a meet-and-greet experience with Carey. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.

It’s a Wonderful Life”

Directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” is widely considered the ultimate American Christmas movie classic. The plot is simple but told with an effective tone: During the Christmas season, an angel helps a suicidal family man by showing him what life would have been like if he never existed. Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from November 30 to December 6. Gathr is presenting the film at various cinema chains, including AMC and Regal, on December 18 and December 19. Bowtie Cinemas is bringing back “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which is rated PG, from December 21 to December 27.

“Miracle at 34th Street”

In this 1947 classic Christmas story directed by George Seaton, a young lawyer (played y John Payne) defends a man (played by Edmund Gwenn) who has been placed in a psychiatric institution after claiming to be Kris Kringle, also known as Santa Claus. “Miracle at 34th Street,” which is not rated, also stars Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood. Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from December 7 to December 14. Bowtie Cinemas is bringing back “Miracle at 34th Street” from December 8 to December 16.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

The Griswold family continues to have mishaps and hi-jinks in this PG-13-rated holiday sequel that was originally released in 1989. Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” doesn’t follow the family on a trip but instead shows what happens when the Griswolds stay home and their wacky relatives come to visit. The movie’s cast includes Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and Juliette Lewis. The Cinépolis theater chain is showing “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” on December 4, while Regal Cinemas will have the movie on December 15. Alamo Drafthouse is showing the movie at various times and locations in December. Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from December 7 to December 13.

“The Polar Express”

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the 2004 adventure film “The Polar Express” was an early pioneer of motion-capture visual effects. In the movie, a young boy (portrayed by Daryl Sabara) embarks on a magical journey to the North Pole on the Polar Express. Tom Hanks portrays the train’s conductor.  Regal Cinemas is bringing back “The Polar Express,” which is rated G, on December 1.  Marcus Theatres will have the film at various times and locations from December 7 to December 13.

“White Christmas”

This 1954 classic musical is about singers Bob Wallace (played by Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (played by Danny Kaye), who team up with sister act Betty Haynes (played by Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (played by Vera-Ellen) to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont. When the men find out that their former World War II commander, Gen. Waverly (played Dean Jagger), is in danger of losing his country inn, they all team up to put on a show that will help him with his financial problems. “White Christmas” was directed by Michael Curtiz with music by Irving Berlin. In partnership with the TCM cable network, Fathom Events is presenting “White Christmas” in theaters on December 9 and December 12, with exclusive insight from Turner Classic Movies. More information and ticket purchases can be found here.