Did You Know These 10 Holiday Movies Are Actually Based on Books?
‘Tis the season for holiday movies, and among all the classics and new movies out this year, there are a handful that get their holiday magic from books! While some books have been adapted several times over the years into movies that are just as iconic, you might be surprised to learn that some of the most famous holiday movies actually are based on books you probably haven’t heard of before. We’ve tracked down 10 of the best holiday movies that take their inspiration from beloved holiday books – keep reading to see which ones are our favorites!
A Christmas Story
This classic holiday comedy was a major source of holiday memes before memes were even a thing! All Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants for Christmas is a BB gun, but he’s having a pretty hard time convincing the adults in his life that it’s an appropriate present. Along the way, he and his family have several other, loosely connected adventures. It’s best known as a movie that gets traditionally marathoned on TV on Christmas Day, but it’s actually based on In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, a semifictional book based on a series of anecdotes by humorist Jean Shepherd.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
On Christmas Eve, three children receive presents that their late mother left for them before she died. Clara (Mackenzie Foy) receives a box she cannot unlock, but at her family’s Christmas party, she follows a clue into a magical world, where she learns that she is the heiress to one of the enchanted realms and must help them stop an invasion. It’s an expansion of the classic story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr. Seuss’s beloved book How the Grinch Stole Christmas gets broadly expanded into a live-action comedy that focuses on the Grinch’s backstory. The Grinch (Jim Carrey) gets adopted into Whoville as a baby, but he grows up an outcast because of his unusual appearance. After getting bullied one time too many, he flees Whoville and becomes the famous Christmas hater, plotting out his revenge for decades.
It's A Wonderful Life
It doesn’t get more classic than this old-school holiday drama. George Bailey (James Stewart) is a worn-down businessman on the brink of making a tragic decision. His despair prompts a visit from his guardian angel (Henry Travers), who takes George on a journey to prove to him that his life does matter by showing him how the world would have been if he’d never been born. The movie is a beacon of old Hollywood, but not many people know that it’s actually based on a short story: The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Kermit and friends take on the iconic characters of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol for this adorable ’90s classic. It’s not all puppet characters, though: Michael Caine plays Ebeneezer Scrooge, the famous miser who turns down any and all pleas for kindness and is subsequently visited by three ghosts on Christmas.
Christmas with the Kranks
Empty-nesters Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) decide to spend their holiday time taking a tropical vacation rather than getting caught up in over-the-top celebrations. Unfortunately, their Christmas-obsessed neighbors are deeply offended by the Kranks’s decision and try to force them to decorate their house and otherwise partake in the neighborhood’s increasingly competitive traditions. The comedy is based on, of all things, a John Grisham novel, called Skipping Christmas.
A Christmas Carol
Disney’s 3D animated version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a slightly darker and expanded version of the classic story, but it still follows the same overall plot. After mistreating several people just before Christmas, wealthy but selfish Ebeneezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, then by three spirits who take him through time in an attempt to revive his Christmas spirit.
The Grinch (2018)
The latest iteration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas puts a bit of a modern spin on the classic, while keeping the same broad strokes of the story. As the Grinch plots his Christmas-ruining scheme and dreams of revenge on the town that’s made him an outcast, Cindy Lou Who sets out to ask Santa to help her single mom and inadvertently crosses paths with the cranky Grinch.
The Polar Express
In this family adventure, a young boy sees a strange train stop outside his window on Christmas Eve. When he goes to investigate, he’s invited on board by the mysterious conductor (Tom Hanks), who reveals that the train is full of children heading to visit Santa at the North Pole. Along the way, the children learn about the real meaning of Christmas and the power of believing. The movie is based on the children’s book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
A cynical, self-centered television executive is definitely not in the holiday spirit, even as he pushes to get his station’s production of A Christmas Carol ready for broadcast on Christmas Eve. The night before the show, Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is warned that he’ll be visited by three ghosts, who show up throughout Christmas Eve to teach Frank some serious lessons about how he’s living his life. Of course, this is yet another movie inspired by A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but a modernized version.