The 45 most successful Christmas movies of all time

‘Bad Santa’ (2003). Miramax
  • From “A Christmas Story” to “Bad Santa,” successful Christmas movies have come in many forms.
  • Here, we’ve compiled the 45 highest-grossing Christmas movies of all time at the domestic box office.

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a laundry list of Christmas movies and a warm blanket.

Classics like “A Christmas Story” and “Elf” made this list alongside newer titles, including the 2018 version of “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” which holds the No. 3 spot.

We compiled this list of the highest-grossing Christmas movies of all time at the US box office with data from Box Office Mojo (unadjusted for inflation). We also included each film’s Rotten Tomatoes critic score and a review excerpt for each.

Take a look at the list below and check it twice for the 45 most successful Christmas movies of all time at the domestic box office.

Note: Several notable older films, including 1946’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” are absent for lack of data.

45. “One Magic Christmas” (1985)


Domestic box office total:$US13,667,222

Critic score: 47%

What critics said: “It’s a godsend for parents, a movie you can take the kids to, but which won’t leave you gnashing at the armrest halfway through.” – Paul Attanasio, Washington Post

44. “All I Want for Christmas” (1991)


Domestic box office total:$US14,812,144

Critic score: 0%

What critics said: “Miracle on 34th Street this ain’t.” – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

43. “Unaccompanied Minors” (2006)


Domestic box office total:$US16,655,224

Critic score: 30%

What critics said: “Not for the faint of heart, the movie is unsettling and startlingly true to life.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

42. “Miracle on 34th Street” (1994)


Domestic box office total:$US17,320,136

Critic score: 59%

What critics said: “The overall effect is enjoyable and cuddly like a warm fire on a cold night. It also harkens back to a bygone, simpler time.” – Leonard Klady, Variety

41. “Bad Santa 2” (2016)


Domestic box office total:$US17,782178

Critic score: 23%

What critics said: “This film is far from perfect, but it made me and some other terribly frightened folks laugh for a while in the dark.” – April Wolfe, L.A. Weekly

40. “Prancer” (1989)


Domestic box office total:$US18,587,135

Critic score: 67%

What critics said: “Prancer remains a real curiosity – a movie that’s far from being successful on its own terms, yet better than those terms would suggest.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

39. “A Christmas Story” (1983)


Domestic box office total:$US20,605,209

Critic score: 89%

What critics said: “Delightfully entertaining, with a wryly amusing narration to keep the adults in the audience smirking.” – Don Peretta, Time Out

38. “Santa Claus: The Movie” (1985)


Domestic box office total:$US23,717,291

Critic score: 21%

What critics said: “A holiday honey of a film for the entire family.” – Dolores Barclay, Associated Press

37. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)


Domestic box office total:$US27,281,507

Critic score: 74%

What critics said: “There’s no great show of wit or tunefulness here, and the ingenious cross-generational touches are fairly rare. But there is a lively kiddie version of the Dickens tale, one that very young viewers ought to understand.” – Janet Maslin,New York Times

36. “Ernest Saves Christmas” (1988)


Domestic box office total:$US28,202,109

Critic score: 36%

What critics said: “Only marginally insufferable, the Ernest movie is … a big-screen example of the TV-sitcom tendency to go broad and sappy with a token Yuletide show each December.” – Richard Corliss, Time magazine

35. “Jack Frost” (1998)


Domestic box office total:$US34,562,556

Critic score: 20%

What critics said: “A slickly packaged and engagingly sentimental fantasy-comedy that stands out as one of the season’s most pleasant surprises!” – Joe Leydon, Variety

34. “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” (2011)


Domestic box office total:$US35,061,031

Critic score: 68%

What critics said: “For all its pretensions to bad taste, this is surprisingly heartwarming festive fare.” – Tom Huddleston,Time Out

33. “Deck the Halls” (2006)


Domestic box office total:$US35,093,569

Critic score: 6%

What critics said: “It’s a holiday ritual: Each year, American moviegoers get the misanthropically stupid, plastic-satire-of- a-plastic-society Christmas comedy they deserve.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

32. “The Nativity Story” (2006)


Domestic box office total:$US37,629,831

Critic score: 38%

What critics said: “One of the incidental points of the film, particularly powerful, is that doing the right thing isn’t easy, even in the face of divine assurance.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

31. “The Star” (2017)


Domestic box office total:$US40,852,824

Critic score: 44%

What critics said: “Unless you have tiny, religious children, it’s probably best to avoid it.” – Helen O’Hara, Time Out

30. “Almost Christmas” (2016)


Domestic box office total:$US42,158,780

Critic score: 52%

What critics said: “The movie takes a few calamitous turns at its climax, dangerously approaching broad slapstick and villainizing a character we’ve come to love. But mainly, it’s a fun and boisterous countdown to the big meal.” – Joshua Rothkopf,Time Out

29. “Krampus” (2015)


Domestic box office total:$US42,725,475

Critic score: 66%

What critics said: “When Krampus departs, so does disillusionment. As I watched the final few minutes of Krampus, I realised that this anti-Christmas movie was really just a Christmas-Christmas movie in disguise.” – Adrian Van Young,Vice

28. “The Night Before” (2015)


Domestic box office total:$US43,047,372

Critic score: 66%

What critics said: “Seth Rogen bursts with inventive exuberance in this schematic but genial holiday comedy about millennials settling down.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

27. “Arthur Christmas” (2011)


Domestic box office total:$US46,462,469

Critic score: 92%

What critics said: “This witty, handsomely appointed 3-D animated feature is the most delightful Santa biopic since Edmund Gwenn donned the fat suit.” – Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

26. “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996)


Domestic box office total:$US48,102,795

Critic score: 59%

What critics said: “The Preacher’s Wife qualifies as old-fashioned Hollywood movie making at its corniest and most saccharine. But the mostly African American cast puts an engaging spin on the chestnut, and it works beautifully.” – Peter Stack,San Francisco Chronicle

25. “This Christmas” (2007)


Domestic box office total:$US49,121,934

Critic score: 55%

What critics said: “If the real-life Christmas experience tends too often to be marred by the rude contradiction between expectations and reality, movies like the ultra-bland holiday family movie This Christmas are at least partly to blame.” – Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star

24. “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” (2013)


Domestic box office total:$US52,543,354

Critic score: 20%

What critics said: “Larry the Cable Guy and Madea are an oddly perfect pairing. They’re both comedians in drag – Larry just gets to wear pants.” – Amy Nicholson, L.A. Weekly

23. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (2018)


Domestic box office total:$US52,766,998

Critic score: 34%

What critics said: “But like A Wrinkle in Time, Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an expensive but clunky fantasy, mashing together mythical elements but mostly hitting discordant notes.” – Brian Lowry, CNN

22. “Office Christmas Party” (2016)


Domestic box office total:$US54,767,494

Critic score: 41%

What critics said: “Like most office Christmas parties, you should skip it.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News

21. “Bad Santa” (2003)


Domestic box office total:$US60,060,328

Critic score: 78%

What critics said: “Once the rude shock of a profane Claus wears off, there’s not really much to do except await the next outrageous remark.” – Michael Agger, New Yorker

20. “Scrooged” (1988)


Domestic box office total:$US60,328,558

Critic score: 70%

What critics said: “Despite the juicy, on-the-edge craziness, Murray is able to layer his outrageous histrionics with an inner sensibility, making his ultimate transformation not only believable but Christmas-cheer uplifting.” – Duane Byrge,Hollywood Reporter

19. “Jingle All The Way” (1996)


Domestic box office total:$US60,592,389

Critic score: 16%

What critics said: “I liked a lot of the movie, which is genial and has a lot of energy, but I was sort of depressed by its relentlessly materialistic view of Christmas, and by the choice to go with action and (mild) violence over dialogue and plot.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

18. “The Best Man Holiday” (2013)


Domestic box office total:$US70,525,195

Critic score: 70%

What critics said: “Even if some of the crudeness and the drama feel forced, it’s hard to hate.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

17. “Christmas Vacation” (1989)


Domestic box office total:$US71,319,526

Critic score: 64%

What critics said: “Christmas Vacation may not be a fancy package, but it is a diverting stocking stuffer.” – Rita Kempley,Washington Post

16. “Fred Claus” (2007)


Domestic box office total:$US72,006,777

Critic score: 20%

What critics said: “Fred Claus turns out to be not bad for a Santa movie, which I suppose could be interpreted as either faint or excessive praise, depending on your view.” – Carina Chocano,Los Angeles Times

15. “A Bad Mums Christmas” (2017)


Domestic box office total:$US72,110,659

Critic score: 30%

What critics said: “Maybe they should take a lesson from the movie itself: Stressed out mums deserve better.” – Stephanie Merry, Washington Post

14. “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004)


Domestic box office total:$US73,780,539

Critic score: 5%

What critics said: “Stinks like the unrefrigerated ham its studio sent me as a promotion several months ago.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

13. “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)


Domestic box office total:$US75,082,668

Critic score: 95%

What critics said: “This full-length animated movie was shot in stop motion, with all the febrile, twittery fascination that the medium exerts; it has a magic-toy shop feeling, with unexpected objects stuttering into life.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker

12. “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” (2006)


Domestic box office total:$US84,500,122

Critic score: 17%

What critics said: “Frost turns the occasion into a swag-saturated consumer orgy, which the film condemns even as it hams up product placement for Red Bull.” – Stephen Garrett,Time Out

11. “Daddy’s Home 2” (2017)


Domestic box office total:$US104,029,443

Critic score:19%

What critics said: “By any standard, every person in the world of Daddy’s Home 2 would be scarred for life by the events in the film. The real happy ending is that no one in the audience has to go home with these people.” – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

10. “Four Christmases” (2008)


Domestic box office total:$US120,146,040

Critic score: 24%

What critics said: “We’ve enjoyed their cocky selfishness; just as much, we bask in schadenfreude when they get guilted into making the familial trail of tears.” – Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine

9. “A Christmas Carol” (2009)


Domestic box office total:$US137,855,863

Critic score: 54%

What critics said: “Does this entertainment achieve a timelessness beyond its exquisite source material? Not even. Yet there’s pleasure to be had and relief in feeling the filmmakers didn’t Scrooge it up either.” – Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

8. “The Santa Clause 2” (2002)


Domestic box office total:$US139,236,327

Critic score: 55%

What critics said: “It’s as home-entertainment ready as a shrink-wrapped sack of microwave popcorn. But at least it works hard at finding ways of pushing this one-joke premise ahead a space or two.” – Gene Seymour, Newsday

7. “The Santa Clause” (1994)


Domestic box office total:$US144,833,357

Critic score: 74%

What critics said: “This is Allen’s movie debut, and it’s easy to see why his show is a ratings smash. There’s an effortless quality to his humour, but it’s also got a quietly urgent edge to it.” – Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times

6. “Elf” (2003)


Domestic box office total:$US173,398,518

Critic score: 83%

What critics said: “Ferrell is a hoot. So is much of this witty holiday family entertainment, which, up until the end, when the ‘true spirit of Christmas’ must be reaffirmed, happily favours slapstick over treacle.” – David Ansen, Newsweek

5. “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992)


Domestic box office total:$US174,585,516

Critic score: 30%

What critics said: “Let’s face it: Culkin’s self-reliant suburban warrior has entered a whole generation’s pop mythology. He’s their Knight in Shining Parka, safely beyond criticism.” – David Ansen, Newsweek

4. “The Polar Express” (2004)


Domestic box office total:$US186,493,472

Critic score: 56%

What critics said: “At some point very early in the 3-D IMAX version of The Polar Express, technology trumps banality and you helplessly surrender to the shock and awe of this big, often thunderous movie.” – Richard Schickel, Time magazine

3. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” (2018)


Domestic box office total:$US224,217,865

Critic score: 58%

What critics said: “It’s best for kids and adults who just can’t handle the angry, diabolical monster of films past.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

2. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)


Domestic box office total:$US260,044,825

Critic score: 52%

What critics said: “If you have little moviegoers around for the holidays, you should still make the trip to Whovillie.” – Paul Clinton, CNN

1. “Home Alone” (1990)


Domestic box office total:$US285,761,243

Critic score: 63%

What critics said: “The movie is quite enjoyable as long as it explores the fantasy of a neglected little boy having an entire house of his own to explore and play in, and it still manages to be fun when he exhibits superhuman ingenuity and resourcefulness.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader