Who Wins the Battle of the Family Box Office: Can it Be Predicted?

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2001
Dr. Baehr looks at a film that did well during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season and suggests reasons why it may have been popular.

Why did Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas far exceed the box office returns for the other family movies last Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season? The answer is simple, even though the Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas has many egregious flaws and is very, very, very soft on Christian elements, it contains more of those elements than the other family movies during this holiday season. In fact, it is the only one of several of the family movies released that contains ANY of those Christian elements that appeal to the 60 percent of the Americans who attend church regularly and who constitute the vast majority of the family audience.

Many reviewers dismissed Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas because they did not recognize those clear Christian elements, such as the debate over the inerrancy of the ‘Book of Who’ (a clear reference to the Bible) and the reference to Jesus words separating the sheep from the goats where he calls upon his disciples to take care of the outcasts. Although How the Grinch Stole Christmas is very lightweight in terms of its Christian allegory and references, they are there to the degree that they will capture the longing of the Christian audience for redemptive entertainment.

This is not to say that the other family movies released so far this season are not moral, or make moral points, but they just don’t present redemptive elements and Christian symbolism.

Whether the studios realize what sets Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas apart, is another question. Ron Howard probably realizes it, because he confides to his associates that he is a Christian.

For whatever it’s worth, the studios should take a lesson from the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Weave Christian allegory into an entertaining movie, and you’ll attract many of the 60 percent of Americans who faithfully attend church.

Now, if only How the Grinch Stole Christmas had been more faithful to the book and the Christmas story, then it would be a real hit and a classic to boot.

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