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A Very Parrot Analytics Christmas Movie Deep Dive

So long Elf, hello Die Hard?

New data from Parrot Analytics suggests American holiday movie tastes are shifting slightly from embracing characters like Buddy the Elf towards those modeled after John McClane.

To be clear, the vast majority of supply and demand for holiday movies is still for family friendly fare. However, cracks are appearing in this subgenre’s hold on the holiday movie space.

In 2021 three quarters of holiday movies could be categorized as family friendly. This share was down to 68% in 2023. The audience demand share for this content dropped from around 88% in 2022 to 80% in 2023.

That drop can be largely accounted for in the rise of holiday thrillers. Recent Christmas movies that have embraced more action, violence, and gore such as Silent Night, Violent Night, and It’s a Wonderful Knife are increasing the demand for this segment of the holiday movie industry. The demand share for holiday thrillers has gone from from under 8% in 2022 to over 13% so far in 2023.

There also appears to be more competition for the dominant holiday movie platform this year. In 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery's Max led other platforms in the U.S. by a wide margin in total demand for holiday movies streaming on the platform. But this year, Max’s lead in demand for holiday content has shrunk considerably, while other platforms like Amazon’s Prime Video and Disney+ have higher demand for holiday movies going into the festive season compared to last year.

Top Platforms for Holiday Movies

  • The number of holiday movies on Max was smaller in November 2023 compared to 2022. A few holiday classics the platform had last year, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, are no longer available to stream on Max in the US.
  • Hulu has seen the most growth in this regard. Even though the platform still has some of the lowest demand for holiday movies, the total demand for holiday movies on the platform in November this year was greater than in December 2022, traditionally the month when holiday demand reaches its peak.
  • As of November, Hulu had overtaken Paramount+ with more demand for its holiday movies. The addition of Die Hard and The Muppet Christmas Carol has helped beef up the platform’s holiday catalog going into this December.

Most In-Demand Christmas Movies

  • The most in-demand Christmas movies with American audiences are mostly classics that have been available for decades, with the exception of Krampus (2015) - another data point showing how newer holiday thriller/horror films are breaking through.
  • Disney+ doesn’t have a huge Christmas catalog, but it features two of the five most in-demand Christmas movies so far this season — Home Alone and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Family friendly movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone, and Elf are currently among the ten most in-demand Christmas movies this season.
  • It is understandably difficult for new movies to break into the crowded canon of Christmas classics. Even Netflix’s Oscar-nominted Klaus (2019) was just 4.27x more in demand that the average movie with American audiences in November 2023.

Average US Demand for Holiday Movies

  • Every year, a big spike in the demand for holiday movies continues from early November through the year’s end. In 2022, the average demand for holiday movies grew by over 50% from the first week of December to the final week of the year.
  • As of the second week in December, the demand for holiday movies in 2023 is outpacing the demand in 2022 and 2021. If these patterns hold again this year, there is a lot of growth yet to happen in demand for holiday movies.
  • What remains to be seen is whether all platforms will experience a similar boost in audience attention on holiday content as Christmas gets closer or if some have a Christmas surprise in store for the year’s final weeks.

Growing Demand for Holiday Thrillers

  • While the family-friendly fare that likely comes to mind when imagining holiday movies still accounts for the vast majority of audience attention for holiday content, other varieties of holiday movies have been catching on with audiences in recent years.
  • In the past two years the share of supply and demand for thriller holiday movies has been in balance. But this year there has been a large jump in demand for thriller holiday content.
  • This shows that there is further opportunity for more of these movies to meet audience demand.
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