Boffo Results for Holiday Films


Television viewers propped up their feet
and watched original cable movies at home in big numbers
during a post-Thanksgiving week in which movie-theater box
offices didn’t fare so well.

Holiday films from Disney Channel and Hallmark Channel
drew blockbuster ratings
for their respective networks,
while non-Christmas movies
and miniseries from TNT and
Syfy drew respectable audiences,
according to Nielsen ratings
for the week of Nov. 28-Dec. 4.

Saddled with a still struggling
economy and with
Christmas around the corner,
consumers are expected
to rely on cable for their entertainment
rather than spend
money outside the home during
the holidays, according to TV
historian Tim Brooks. Indeed, theatrical gross revenue for the
weekend of Dec. 2-4 was $80 million, down $6 million from
the same weekend last year, according to Box Office Mojo.

Despite the release of such touted titles as The Twilight Saga:
Breaking Dawn
Part One and kids-themed The Muppets and
Happy Feet Two, box-office revenue was down 52% versus the
week prior, which was the Thanksgiving weekend.


“In an economy like this, there is a tendency to conserve and
to go to things that don’t require extra expenditure, like going
out to the movies,” Brooks said. “It’s Christmas season, people
want a lift. Christmas movies [on TV] do that and it’s ‘free.’ ”

Cable’s original movies benefi ted from the sluggish box-office take as Christmas-themed movies drew big audiences.
Some 6.8 million viewers tuned in for Disney Channel’s Good
Luck Charlie, Its Christmas!
— the biggest audience for a cable
original movie this year. The movie, based on the hit series
Good Luck Charlie, drew 3.3 million kids aged 6-11 to rank
as the leading live-action scripted telecast in all TV thus far in
2011 with that demo, according to Disney Channel.

Hallmark Channel continued its impressive run of highrated
holiday films with the Dec. 5 premiere of A Princess for
. The movie, with Roger Moore as a royal duke who
wants to spend Christmas with his estranged grandkids and
their guardian aunt, drew 3.5 million viewers in its premiere,
said network officials. That follows on the heels of its Nov. 27
movie, Holiday Engagement, which also garnered 3.5 million
viewers, and the Nov. 20
A Christmas Wish, which
generated 4 million viewers.

The made-for-cable
movie “is an underserved
genre and people love great
stories,” Hallmark Channel
CEO Bill Abbott said. “We
have staked out a strong
heritage here with [original
movies], so the rising tide of
movies will lift all boats, including

Even non-holiday movies
and miniseries attracted decent ratings post-Thanksgiving.
Syfy’s four-hour movie miniseries Neverland averaged 2.25
million viewers over its Dec. 4-5 run, according to Nielsen. The
Dec. 4 premiere episode of the show, a prequel to author J.M.
Barrie’s classic novel Peter Pan, averaged 2.5 million viewers,
up 5% from the network’s last original miniseries, Alice, in
2009, Syfy said.


TNT’s return to the original movie arena with the Nov. 29
mystery drama Scott Turow’s Innocent pulled in 1.6 million
viewers, and its Nov. 30 telefilm Ricochet drew an audience
of 1.4 million people.

“The first two movies in the ‘TNT Mystery Movie Night’
[franchise] have each delivered 4.2 million viewers and more
than 1.3 million adults 25-54 through the premieres, encores
and time-shifted viewing,” Michael Wright, executive vice
president and head of programming at TNT, TBS and
TCM, said. “We’re pleased with the response from viewers
and critics, and we look forward to seeing how the rest
of the movies perform.”