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‘A Christmas Carol’ has been acquired by Apple

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Apple intends to own the next Christmas classic with “A Christmas Carol,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, in the latest episode of streaming services preparing their tremendously expensive ordnance for the approaching conflict. Apple reportedly won a bidding war against Netflix, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and others for an undisclosed sum, with sources estimating total costs for talent alone to be in the millions of dollars.

‘A Christmas Carol’ has been acquired by Apple

That would imply a budget of well over $100 million for production. Christmas is for streaming at such costs. Countless film adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” have been made, renewed, and reinvented. The novella was written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, and it has long been in the public domain (as has the first adaptation, “Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost,” which came out in 1901). The last time a big studio took on the property was in 2009, when Universal released Robert Zemeckis’ 3D “A Christmas Carol,” starring Jim Carrey. That picture was a flop, grossing only $325 million worldwide on a budget of $200 million. Since the advent of cable, television has dominated the congested Christmas movie market. These films are the rare examples of movies that people desire to see over and over again, even if it is only once a year, just as kids movies, which are undeniably owned by Disney.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will air on NBC, and “A Christmas Story” will air on TNT/TBS. Freeform (formerly ABC Family) hosts its 25 Days of Christmas marathon, Hallmark Channel debuted a whopping 33 original Christmas movies in 2017, and IFC commemorated the 30th anniversary of “Die Hard” with a daylong marathon on Christmas Day last year. Only a few films, such as “Home Alone” (which Disney+ aims to “reimagine”), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “The Santa Clause,” become compulsory annual watching in a sea of limitless options. There’s also “Elf,” which converted former SNL cast member Ferrell into a legitimate movie star in 2003. (and catapulted young director Jon Favreau). It grossed $220 million globally on a budget of $33 million; it was AMC’s most-watched show in 2018 and ranked #29 among best-selling DVDs.

It’s also a regular feature on Apple’s iTunes’ Christmas carousel. Even with Farrell and Reynolds, studios in 2019 are likely to be a little less merry at the notion of filming a Christmas film that would need to gross $400 million globally to break even. It appears to be a fantastic bargain for Apple, which is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to secure its place in the streaming firmament and possibly create a holiday classic that will keep members for years to come.

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