Christmas is always a fantastic time for big movie releases and 2018 will be no exception. Among the highlights, we have Sherlock Holmes making a comedic appearance and the despicable Grinch returning to the big screen in 3D. Here we have the film news and releases to keep us engrossed through the festive season.
Star Wars & Christmas
Star Wars has become a Christmas tradition. The original trilogy was already etched into the festive memories of the How to Christmas posse, with each movie making its TV premiere at Christmas – and being repeated time and again in holiday seasons that followed. Or is that just how we want to remember it, like it always raining on Good Friday, the sun always shining on Easter Day and it always snowing in the build up to Christmas? We all shared that childhood, right?
When the newest incarnation of Star Wars films returned to the big screen in winter 2015, a new Christmas tradition was born. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and the 2017 release “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” were all given mid-December release dates. Happy Star Wars Christmas everyone! Put a lightsaber in my stocking, why don’t you? And dangle Darth’s baubles from my tree while you’re at it.
Alas, the tradition is about to end with the news that “Star Wars: Episode IX” will now be released in May 2019 and not December that year. Star Wars and Christmas not so forever entwined after all.
“Sherlock Holmes 3”, starring Robert Downey Jr in the title role and Jude Law as Dr Watson, is to have a Christmas 2020 release. The first two films in the franchise, from 2009 and 2011, made a combined one billion dollars-plus. Guy Ritchie directed the first two movies but a director for the third instalment has yet to be announced.
The USA’s Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is to unveil 37 new Christmas movies for 2018. That’s even more than last year – a new record.
Hallmark’s Christmas appetiser starts in late June when HMM’s Gold Crown Christmas programming – a re-airing of its older stock – runs from June 29 to July 8, with Hallmark Channel’s Keepsake Christmas offering similar fayre from July 6-15. The Lifetime Channel in the states has already announced it will premiere 14 Christmas movies this year.
Paul Feig, director and brains behind such films as “Bridesmaids” and “Ghostbusters”, will reportedly direct “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke and “Crazy Rich Asians” leading man Henry Golding in a new London-based festive film “Last Christmas”. It is based on a script written by double Oscar winner Emma Thompson and playwright Bryony Kimmings. Thompson was among the stellar cast of “Love Actually”. Is it possible “Last Christmas” could be in that comedic, rom-com style, with the odd heart-wrenching moment thrown in? “Last Christmas” was, of course, a huge Christmas hit song for Wham! in the eighties. We’re expecting a 2019 release for the movie.
Talking of “Love Actually”, fans of the film are in for a special treat for Christmas 2018 as the popular Richard Curtis film will be screened across the UK, while a live orchestra plays Craig Armstrong’s romantic score. Among the screenings taking place are ones at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane on December 2nd, St David’s Hall, Cardiff on December 3rd and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on December 5th. The tour starts in Nottingham on November 26th. Check ticketmaster.co.uk for ticket availability and other venues.
Netflix Original Christmas Movies
Kurt Russell plays one of the coolest Santas you’re ever likely to see in the new Netflix movie “The Christmas Chronicles”, set to premiere on November 22nd and made by the producers of “Home Alone”. When Russell’s Santa declares: “Christmas is in trouble”, two youngsters help him in his quest to save the day. The trailer is available on YouTube from October 10th. Look out for the elves – they are adorable. Here’s a taster of what else is to come on Netflix fo the festive season..
A photographer inherits an antique Advent calendar that predicts the future. Netflix asks: “Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season?” Christmas films are nothing without a happy ending, so we are imagining the answer is: “Absolutely!”
“The Princess Switch” – Premieres November 16th
In this comedy-romance, Margaret is the Duchess of Montenaro; Stacy is just your everyday kinda girl from Chicago. A week before Christmas they switch places and they both fall in love with people outside their usual realm.
“A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding” – Premieres November 30th
This sequel to the hugely popular “A Christmas Prince” features Prince Richard and Amber as they plan their wedding. They will have to deal with some pre-marriage jitters – but navigating a political crisis was not part of the planning.
Festive Classics on the Big Screen 2018
London: One Aldwych is running a season of festive film screenings with an added luxurious flourish this Christmas, including “White Christmas”, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street”. You can watch a movie in the London hotel’s screening room, sipping a glass of champagne, then enjoy a three-course meal in the hotel’s Indigo restaurant. Tickets for screenings start at £58 and there are shows from November 22nd to December 18th. Visit onealdwych.com.
London: “Home Alone in Concert” – The festive season isn’t complete without viewing the comedy film classic “Home Alone”, with Macaulay Culkin proving to robbers and gangsters everywhere that you don’t mess with kids at Christmas. This year, London’s historic Royal Albert Hall is screening the 1990 movie on December 22nd, with a live orchestra performing John Williams’ wonderful score. Tickets range from £25 to £60. More at royalalberthall.com.
London: The treasured Prince Charles Cinema in London is showing the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” twice a day throughout December until Christmas Eve. There are numerous other seasonal films on show divided into two categories: more traditional Christmas movies on the nice list and more edgy choices on the naughty list. There are sing-along screenings and even quote-along options. Some viewings come with sparkling wine and mince pies. Check out princecharlescinema.com for ticket details.
Movie Releases 2018
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”
Release Date: November 2nd 2018
The film is “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”, the release date is November 2nd 2018. Keira Knightley stars in an elaborate and visually stunning Disney reimagining of the book and ballet “The Nutcracker”. Mackenzie Foy, Dame Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman also feature. The magical story takes place on Christmas Eve, but the trailer warns there’s a dark side to this festive movie tale.
Release Date: November 9th 2018
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this year’s American 3D computer-animated Christmas film “The Grinch”. It is the third screen adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, following the 1966 TV cartoon and Jim Carrey’s feature-length movie in 2000. Music is provided by Danny Elfman. The UK and US release date is November 9th 2018. “The Grinch” tells the story of a cynical, mean old grouch of a creature who wants to stop Christmas from coming to Whoville. Cumberbatch voices the grumpy character, whose heart is changed by a young girl’s kindness and the unbreakable Christmas spirit of the villagers.
Release Date: November 30th 2018
British actors Joely Richardson and Gemma Whelan lead a tremendous cast in this British family feature, due for release on November 30th 2018. Julian Ovenden, Michael Landes, Sally Phillips, Patricia Hodge, Ronni Ancona and James Fox also star in a film that sees two siblings and their families come together to spend Christmas in a rundown country house – previously owned by the sisters’ recently deceased parents. Old family feuds reignite with comic consequences. So much for the season of goodwill to all. James Dearden directs his own work.
“Holmes & Watson”
Release date: December 21st 2018
Will Ferrell, a perennial Christmas fixture thanks to his tour de force as Elf, brings us a new Christmas movie gift this year as Sherlock Holmes. Ferrell stars alongside John C. Reilly – who plays Dr Watson – in Etan Cohen’s American comedy-mystery “Holmes & Watson”, which is due for release on December 21st, 2018. A glittering cast includes Hugh Laurie as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, Lauren Lapkus, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald and Ralph Fiennes.
“Mary Poppins Returns”
Release date: December 19th 2018
Emily Blunt stars in the role that earned Dame Julie Andrews an Oscar as Mary Poppins returns to the big screen after more than fifty years. The film is set in 1930s London and is drawn from material in the books of P.L. Travers. Michael, played by Ben Wishaw, and Jane, portrayed by Emily Mortimer, are now adults. Michael, his three children and their housekeeper Ellen (the always brilliant Dame Julie Walters), live on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, magical nanny Mary Poppins re-enters the lives of the Banks family and uses her unique gifts to help the family rediscover joy. Mary Poppins also introduces us to her eccentric cousin Topsy, played by Meryl Streep. This was originally slated for a Christmas Day release but Disney sensibly brought it forward. This should have been a pre-Christmas treat all along.