Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sarah Smith|
|Produced by||Steve Pegram|
|Written by||Peter Baynham
|Story by||Sarah Smith (uncredited)|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Editing by||John Carnochan
Sony Pictures Animation
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Arthur Christmas is a 2011 British/American 3-D computer animated Christmas comedy film, produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation as their first collaborative project. The film was released on November 11, 2011, in the UK, and on November 23, 2011, in the USA.
Directed by Sarah Smith, it features voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Ramona Marquez and Michael Palin. Set on Christmas night, the film tells a story about the Santa Claus' clumsy son Arthur Christmas who discovers that the Santas' high-tech ship has failed to deliver one girl's present, goes on a mission to save her Christmas, accompanied only by his aging grandfather, a rebellious yet enthusiastic young Christmas Elf obsessed with wrapping gifts for children, and a team of eight strong, magical yet untrained reindeer.
Arthur Christmas was very well received by critics, praising its animation, and humorous, smart and heart-warming story. The film was slightly less successful at the box office, earning only $147 million on a $100 million budget.
Set on Christmas Eve, the film opens with hundreds of elves helming the command centre of Santa's mile-wide, ultra–high-tech sleigh-esque craft, the S-1. Santa and the elves deliver presents to every child in the world using advanced equipment and military precision. These complex operations are micromanaged by Santa's oldest son Steve and his obsequious elfin assistant Peter (among thousands of more elves) at mission control underneath the North Pole, while Steve's clumsy and panophobic younger brother Arthur answers the letters to Santa. During a delivery operation, when a child wakes up and almost sees Santa, an elf back in the S-1 inadvertently presses a button, causing a present to fall off a conveyor and go unnoticed.
Having completed his 70th mission, Santa is portrayed as far past his prime and whose role in field operations now is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, he is held in high esteem, and delivers a congratulatory speech to the enraptured elves. Much to Steve's frustration, who has long anticipated succeeding his father, Santa announces he looks forward to his 71st. During their family Christmas dinner, Arthur's suggestion for the family to play a board game degenerates into a petty quarrel between Santa and Steve, while Grand-Santa, bored by retirement, resentfully criticizes their over-modernization. Distraught, the various family members leave the dinner table. When Arthur humbly compliments Steve that he believes he will be a great Santa Claus, Steve rudely dismisses Arthur's overture; later, their father shares with Mrs. Claus his grave doubts about his self-identity should he retire.
Meanwhile, an elf named Bryony finds the missed present—a wrapped bicycle that has yet to be delivered—and alerts Steve and his elf-assistant to the problem. Arthur is alarmed when he recognizes the present as a gift for Gwen, a little girl whose letter he had personally replied to. Arthur alerts his father, who is at a loss as to how to handle the situation; Steve argues that one missed present out of billions is an acceptable error whose correction can wait a few days. Grand-Santa on the other hand, apparently learning of the dire situation, proposes delivering the gift using Evie, his old wooden sleigh, and the great-great-grandchildren of the original eight reindeer, forcefully whisking away a reluctant Arthur and a stowaway Bryony. They get lost, lose several of their reindeer, and land in danger several times, ultimately being mistaken for aliens and causing an international military incident. Through all this, Arthur eventually learns to his compounding disappointment that Grand-Santa's true motive is to fulfill his ego, that Steve refuses to help them out of petty resentment and possibility of his brother being made hero overshadowing his work, and that his own father has gone to bed, apparently content even though a present was not delivered.
Finally, stranded in Cuba after losing the sleigh and the remaining reindeer, Arthur renews his sense of purpose—that it all comes down to having presents delivered, regardless of how it is done and who did it—and with Grand-Santa's help manages to recover the sleigh. Meanwhile, the elves grow increasingly alarmed at rumors of this neglected delivery and the Clauses' unthinkable indifference, sending them into a panic. In response, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Steve take the high-tech sleigh-craft to deliver a superior present—to the wrong child.
In the meantime, Arthur and his party lose the remaining reindeer and a US Predator drone intercepts and opens fire on them, causing Arthur to bail out of the sleigh, via parachute. Ultimately with Mrs. Claus' and Bryony's help, all the male Clauses arrive at Gwen's house before she awakens, only to have all but Arthur quarrel about who gets to actually place the gift. Noticing that only Arthur truly cares about the girl's feelings, the elder Clauses collectively realize that he is the sole worthy successor. As a result, Santa gives Arthur the honor and Steve, upon learning of his own errors and acknowledges that his brother is the worthy Santa instead of him, forfeits his supposed birthright to his brother. In a fitting conclusion, Gwen glimpses a snow-bearded Arthur in a wind-buffeted sweater just before vanishing up into the S-1.
With the crisis resolved, Santa goes into a happy retirement with Mrs. Claus; he also becomes grand-Santa's much-desired new companion and plays Arthur's board game with him for many happy hours. Meanwhile, Steve finds true contentment as Chief Operating Officer while Bryony is promoted to Vice-President of Packing, Pacific Division. In a nod to traditionalism once neglected, the high-tech S-1 is re-christened EVIE in honor of Grand-Santa's old sleigh and refitted to be pulled by a team of five thousand reindeer—led by the original eight, all of whom managed to return safely via innate navigational abilities. Finally, Arthur happily guides the entire enterprise in the proper spirit as the new Santa.
- James McAvoy as Arthur Claus, the good-natured but clumsy younger son of Malcolm and Margaret who works in the mail room.
- Hugh Laurie as Steven "Steve" Claus, Malcom and Margaret's elder son and Arthur's cool and incredibly capable, but cynical, older brother.
- Bill Nighy as Grand-Santa, Malcom's 136 year old cranky father and grandfather of Steve and Arthur who dislikes the modern world.
- Jim Broadbent as Malcolm "Santa" Claus, the affable but incompetent man in charge at the North Pole, Grand-Santa's son, Margaret's husband, and Steve's and Arthur's father.
- Imelda Staunton as Margaret Claus, Malcom's dedicated and talented wife, and Steve's and Arthur's mother.
- Ashley Jensen as Bryony, the enthusiastic Christmas Elf from the Giftwrap Battalion.
- Marc Wootton as Peter, Steve's assistant Christmas Elf.
- Laura Linney as North Pole Computer
- Eva Longoria as Chief De Silva, head of UNFITA, The Hague (United Northern Federal International Treaty Alliance)
- Ramona Marquez as Gwen Hines, the girl whose present Arthur must deliver.
- Michael Palin as Ernie Clicker, the elderly elf and former head of Polar communications for 46 missions during Grand-Santa's time as Santa Claus.
- Sanjeev Bhaskar as Lead Elf
- Robbie Coltrane as Lead Elf
- Joan Cusack as Lead Elf
- Rhys Darby as Lead Elf
- Jane Horrocks as Lead Elf
- Iain McKee as Lead Elf
- Andy Serkis as Lead Elf
- Dominic West as Lead Elf
Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation spent 18 months on pre-production on the story and design in the U.K. before relocating to Sony's Culver City, US, for another 18 months of production. On April 27, 2009, it was reported that the production has begun with Aardman and Sony Pictures Imageworks working together on animation.
Arthur Christmas has received very positive reviews, praising its fresh take on the Christmas premise. Review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes, reports that 92% of critics gave the film positive reviews, earning a "Fresh" rating. The site's consensus reads: "Aardman Animations broadens their humor a bit for Arthur Christmas, a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength." The film won a Golden Tomato Award at the 13th Golden Tomato Awards as the best reviewed animated film of 2011. On Metacritic, another review aggregator, the film holds a score of 69 based on 32 reviews.
John Anderson from Newsday praised the film, saying, "The results are not only funny and fresh, but represent a new way of tackling the whole yuletide paradigm: Santa as a high-tech hereditary monarchy." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post also wrote a positive review, saying that it is "unexpectedly fresh, despite the familiar-sounding premise". Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times wrote that "the plot may be a little too cluttered for the toddler crowd to follow, but the next age group up should be amused, and the script by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith has plenty of sly jokes for grown-ups." One of the few negative reviews came from Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald, who thought that "the movie fails utterly at coming up with a story that merits all the eye candy."
In the United Kingdom the film opened in second place with a £2.5 million weekend gross, behind Immortals. It topped the box office in its fourth week, by which time the cumulative gross was £11.5 million. The film returned to the top of the box office on week seven, during Christmas Week, grossing £2.05m and a total of £19.7m.
In the United States and Canada the film earned $2.4 million on its opening day and $1.8 million on Thanksgiving Day. It would go on to gross $12.1 million over the three-day weekend and $16.3 million over the five-day. This was on par with studio expectations. The film went on to gross nearly $50 million domestically, which would be seen as a disappointment since it earned only half of its $100 million budget and was the lowest-grossing Aardman Animations film to date.
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Animated Film||Nominated|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Character Design in a Feature Production||Peter de Sève||Nominated|
|Storyboarding in a Feature Production||Kris Pearn||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in a Feature Production||Ashley Jensen||Nominated|
|Writing in a Feature Production||Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham||Nominated|
|British Academy of Film and Television Arts||Animated Film||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Animated Film||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society ||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Doug Ikeler, Chris Juen, Alan Short, Mandy Tankenson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Michael Ford, David Morehead, Emi Tahira||Nominated|
|Women Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Females||Nominated|
|Arthur Christmas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Released||November 14, 2011|
|Label||Sony Classical, Madison Gate Records|
|1.||"Trelew, Cornwall, England"||1:48|
|5.||"One Missed Child"||3:00|
|6.||"Bring Them Home"||1:43|
|9.||"The Wrong Trelew"||1:54|
|10.||"Race to Gwen's House"||2:09|
|17.||"We Wish You A..."||0:48|
|18.||"Make Someone Happy" (Performed by Bill Nighy)||2:34|
An iOS video game titled Arthur Christmas: Elf Run was released in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2011, on iTunes App Store. On November 18, 2011, the game was released worldwide on the iOS and Android platform. Released as a free and a premium version, the game allows players to play as delivery elves, who must quickly and quietly deliver gifts to children. Another iOS app based on the film is Arthur Christmas Movie Storybook, which was released on 30 November 2011.
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- Anderson, John (22 November 22 2011). "'Arthur Christmas': Santa's helper". Newsday. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- O'Sullivan, Michael (23 November 2011). "Arthur Christmas". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- Genzlinger, Neil (22 November 2011). "Arthur Christmas (2011)". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
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- "10th Annual VES Awards Recipients". Visual Effects Society. February 7, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- Adams, Ryan (December 19, 2011). "The Women Film Critics Circle Awards". Awards Daily. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
- "Arthur Christmas - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- "Justin Bieber is Coming to Town: New Song and Video Debut with Upcoming Movie "Arthur Christmas"". PR Newswire. October 17, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
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- "Arthur Christmas: Elf Run is the #1 Kids Game at UK App Store on First Weekend". PR Newswire. November 18, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
- "iStoryTime Launches Arthur Christmas Movie Storybook for iPhone and iPad". prMac.com. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Official website
- Arthur Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- Arthur Christmas at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Arthur Christmas at AllRovi
- Arthur Christmas at Rotten Tomatoes
- Arthur Christmas at Box Office Mojo
- Arthur Christmas at Metacritic