A Christmas Carol (2009 film)

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A Christmas Carol
A man in a night gown and hat, flying through the sky. In the background is a clock tower covered in scaffolding.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Zemeckis
Written byRobert Zemeckis
Based onA Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Produced by
CinematographyRobert Presley
Edited byJeremiah O'Driscoll
Music byAlan Silvestri
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
  • November 3, 2009 (2009-11-03) (London)
  • November 6, 2009 (2009-11-06) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$175-200 million[2][3]
Box office$325 million[3]

A Christmas Carol is a 2009 American computer-animated dark fantasy Christmas film written and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novel of the same name and stars Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn and Cary Elwes. The film was produced through the process of motion capture, a technique used in Zemeckis' previous films The Polar Express and Beowulf. It is Disney's third adaptation of the classic story, following Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), and only one of two films produced by ImageMovers Digital.

A Christmas Carol was officially released in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D on November 6, 2009 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.[4] It had its world premiere in London, coinciding with the switching-on of the annual Oxford Street and Regent Street Christmas lights.[5][6] The film earned $325 million on a $175-200 million budget and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its visuals, Alan Silvestri's musical score and the performances of Carrey and Oldman, but criticized its dark tone. Due to its poor box-office performance, ImageMovers Digital was later shut down by Disney and re-absorbed into ImageMovers.[7]


In 1836, Jacob Marley dies on Christmas Eve in London, leaving behind only his old and miserly business partner Ebenezer Scrooge.

Seven years later, on Christmas Eve in 1843, Scrooge refuses to partake in the merriment of Christmas, declining his cheerful nephew Fred's invitation to the annual Christmas dinner party and rejecting two gentlemen's offer to collect money for charity. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit asks Scrooge to allow him to have a day off on Christmas Day to spend time with his family, to which Scrooge reluctantly agrees. That night, Scrooge encounters the ghost of Jacob Marley bound in heavy chains. Marley warns Scrooge to repent of his wicked ways or he will be condemned to an even worse fate, revealing that Scrooge's chains are even more ponderous due to laboring on them for seven years longer than Marley did. Marley informs Scrooge that he will be haunted by three spirits who will guide him away from this miserable existence.

First, Scrooge is visited by the uncanny Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back in time. Scrooge relives his lonely childhood in a boarding school and his relationship with his beloved sister Fan, Fred's mother. Scrooge later began a successful career in business and money-lending as an employee under Fezziwig, and he became engaged to a woman named Belle. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how Belle left him when he became obsessed with wealth. A devastated Scrooge extinguishes the spirit with his candle snuffer cap and is rocketed back to the present.

Next, Scrooge meets the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Bob's house, learning that his family is content with their small dinner, and Scrooge starts to take pity on Bob's ill son Tiny Tim, whom the Ghost comments will likely not survive until next Christmas; at this point, the Ghost slowly begins to age. They next visit Scrooge’s nephew Fred, who is throwing a party for his guests and insists that they raise a toast to Scrooge in spite of his cold demeanor. Arriving in Big Ben, the Ghost warns Scrooge about the evils of "Ignorance" and "Want"; Big Ben begins tolling midnight as "Ignorance" and "Want" manifest themselves before Scrooge as two wretched children who grow into violent, insane individuals, leaving the spirit withering away.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives, appearing as a dark shadow, and takes Scrooge into the future. He witnesses a group of businessmen discussing the death of an unnamed colleague, saying they would only attend the funeral if lunch is provided. After being chased across London by the Ghost, Scrooge recognizes his charwoman Mrs. Dilber selling the stolen possessions of the deceased. Shortly afterwards, Scrooge sees the aforementioned colleague's body on a bed, followed by a vision of a family who is relieved that he is dead, as they have more time to pay off their debt. The spirit transports Scrooge to Bob's residence, discovering that Tiny Tim has died. Scrooge is then escorted to a cemetery, where the Ghost points out his own grave, revealing Scrooge as the man who died. Realizing the consequences upon his actions, Scrooge decides to change his ways just as the Ghost forces him to fall into his empty coffin lying in a deep grave that sits above the fires of Hell.

Waking up in his own room on Christmas Day, with love and happiness in his heart, a gleeful Scrooge decides to surprise Bob's family with a turkey dinner, and ventures out with the charity workers and the citizens of London to spread happiness in the city, and later attends Fred's Christmas dinner, where he is warmly welcomed. The following day, he gives Cratchit a raise. Cratchit states to the viewers that Scrooge becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim, who escapes death, and Scrooge now treats everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion.


  • Jim Carrey as:
    • Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy, grouchy and selfish old man, whose sheer miserly nature leads him to despise Christmas and all things which engender happiness.
    • Ghost of Christmas Past, the first spirit that haunts Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. He is depicted as an androgynous man with a flickering flame for a head and a body like a candle, and speaks with an Irish accent.
    • Ghost of Christmas Present, the second spirit. He is depicted as a towering man with red hair, a full beard, and a green ermine robe. He is a jolly figure prone to hearty laughter, and speaks with a Yorkshire accent.
    • Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the third and final spirit. It is depicted as a shadowy Grim Reaper cast across the ground or a wall, and is the only spirit that does not speak.
  • Gary Oldman as:
    • Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's cheerful assistant and underpaid clerk.
    • Jacob Marley, the ghost of Scrooge's former business partner, who is bound in chains and cursed to walk the earth in penance of a cold-hearted life.
    • Oldman also provides the motion capture for Tiny Tim, Cratchit's youngest son.
      • Ryan Ochoa provides the uncredited voice of Tiny Tim.
  • Colin Firth as Fred, Scrooge's cheerful nephew and only living relative. Fred is the son of Scrooge's younger sister Fan.
  • Bob Hoskins as Mr. Fezziwig, the proprietor of a warehouse business for whom Scrooge worked as a young apprentice.
    • Hoskins also portrays Old Joe, a fence who buys the belongings of the deceased Scrooge from Mrs. Dilber.
  • Robin Wright Penn as Fan, Scrooge's beloved younger sister who has since died.
    • Wright also portrays Belle, Scrooge's neglected fiancée.
  • Cary Elwes as Portly Gentleman #1/Dick Wilkins/Mad Fiddler/Guest #2/Business Man #1
    • Elwes would also act as a stand-in for Scrooge or the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present in scenes where these characters appear together, as all were portrayed by Jim Carrey.
  • Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's charwoman.
  • Steve Valentine as Funerary Undertaker/Topper
  • Daryl Sabara as Undertaker's Apprentice/Tattered Caroler #1/Beggar Boy #1/Peter Cratchit/Well-Dressed Caroler #1
  • Sage Ryan as Tattered Caroler #2
  • Amber Gainey Meade as Tattered Caroler #3/ Well-Dressed Caroler #2
  • Ryan Ochoa as Tattered Caroler #4/Beggar Boy #2/Young Cratchit Boy/Ignorance Boy/Young Boy with Sleigh
  • Bobbi Page as Tattered Caroler #5/Well-Dressed Caroler #3
  • Ron Bottitta as Tattered Caroler #6/Well-Dressed Caroler #4
  • Sammi Hanratty as Beggar Boy #3/Young Cratchit Girl/Want Girl
  • Julian Holloway as Fat Cook/Portly Gentleman #2/Business Man #3
  • Jacquie Barnbrook as Mrs. Fezziwig/Fred's sister-in-law/Well-Dressed Caroler #5
  • Lesley Manville as Mrs. Cratchit
  • Molly C. Quinn as Belinda Cratchit
  • Fay Masterson as Martha Cratchit/Guest #1/Caroline
  • Leslie Zemeckis as Janet Holywell, Fred's wife.
  • Paul Blackthorne as Guest #3/Business Man #2
  • Michael Hyland as Guest #4
  • Kerry Hoyt as Adult Ignorance
  • Julene Renee-Preciado as Adult Want


After making The Polar Express (2004), Robert Zemeckis stated that he "fell in love with digital cinema"[8] and tried finding an avenue in order to use the format again. He eventually figured out that an adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol would be an opportunity to achieve this.[8] Upon rereading the story, he realized that "the story has never been realized in a way that it was actually imagined by Charles Dickens as he wrote it," as well as that "it's as if he wrote this story to be a movie because it's so visual and so cinematic."[8] Zemeckis has stated previously that A Christmas Carol is one of his favorite stories dealing with time travel.[9] Carrey has described the film as "a classical version of A Christmas Carol […] There are a lot of vocal things, a lot of physical things, I have to do. Not to mention doing the accents properly, the English, Irish accents […] I want it to fly in the UK. I want it to be good and I want them to go, 'Yeah, that's for real.' We were very true to the book. It's beautiful. It's an incredible film."[10]

Disney partnered with Amtrak to promote the film with a special nationwide train tour, starting in May 2009 and visiting 40 cities, finishing in New York in November.[11][12]


A Christmas Carol opened London on November 3, 2009, and was theatrically released on November 6, 2009, in the United States by Walt Disney Pictures.

Home media[edit]

Disney released the film on November 23, 2010[13] in a single-disc DVD, two-disc 2D Blu-ray/DVD combo and in a four-disc combo pack that includes a Blu-ray 3D, a Blu-ray 2D, a DVD and a digital copy. This marked the first time that a film was available in Blu-ray 3D the same day as a standard Blu-ray 2D,[citation needed] as well as Disney's first in the Blu-ray 3D market along with Alice in Wonderland.[14] The DVD contains deleted scenes and two featurettes called "On Set with Sammi" and "Capturing A Christmas Carol". The Blu-ray 2D also has a "Digital Advent Calendar" and the featurette "Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience". The Blu-ray 3D has an exclusive 3D game called "Mr. Scrooge's Wild Ride".


Box office[edit]

A Christmas Carol grossed $137.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $187.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $325.3 million.[3] Due to its high production and marketing costs, the film lost the studio an estimated $50–100 million, and forced Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group and the head of worldwide marketing, to resign.[15]

The film opened at #1 in 3,683 theaters, grossing $30.1 million its opening weekend, with an average of $8,159 per theater.[16]

In the United Kingdom, A Christmas Carol topped the box office on two occasions; the first was when it opened, the second was five weeks later when it leapfrogged box office chart toppers 2012, The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Paranormal Activity despite family competition from Nativity!, another Christmas-themed film.

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 53% of 202 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Robert Zemeckis' 3-D animated take on the Dickens classic tries hard, but its dazzling special effects distract from an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman."[17] On Metacritic, another aggregator, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[19]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, calling it "an exhilarating visual experience".[20] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A, applauding the film as "a marvelous and touching yuletide toy of a movie".[21] Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film 3/5 stars and stated the film "is well-crafted but artless, detailed but lacking soul."[22] Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com gave the film a mixed review claiming the movie "is a triumph of something—but it's certainly not the Christmas spirit."[23] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote in his review that the film's "tone is joyless, despite an extended passage of bizarre laughter, several dazzling flights of digital fancy, a succession of striking images and Jim Carrey's voicing of Scrooge plus half a dozen other roles."[24] The Daily Telegraph reviewer Tim Robey wrote, "How much is gained by the half-real visual style for this story is open to question—the early scenes are laborious and never quite alive, and the explosion of jollity at the end lacks the virtue of being funny."[25] Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian also criticized the technology: "The hi-tech sheen is impressive but in an unexciting way. I wanted to see real human faces convey real human emotions."[26] Time Out London praised the film for sticking to Dickens' original dialogue but also questioned the technology by saying, "To an extent, this 'Christmas Carol' is a case of style—and stylisation—overwhelming substance."[27]

Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York named A Christmas Carol the eighth-best film of 2009.[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Recipients Result
2010 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Jim Carrey Won
Favorite Animated Movie A Christmas Carol Nominated
36th Saturn Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated


A Christmas Carol
Film score by
ReleasedNovember 3, 2009
LabelWalt Disney Records

The music was composed by Alan Silvestri and orchestrated by William Ross, Conrad Pope, Silvestri, and John Ashton Thomas. The entire score was conducted by Silvestri and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony alongside Page LA Studio Voices and London Voices.[29] Much of the music was based on actual carols. The album was later issued physically through Intrada Records. The theme song "God Bless Us Everyone" was written by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard and performed by Italian classical crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli.


  1. ^ "A CHRISTMAS CAROL (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. October 7, 2009. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Barnes, Brooks (October 26, 2009). "Disney Hopes Christmas Carol Lives Up to Its Blockbuster Marketing". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "A Christmas Carol (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on November 29, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
  4. ^ McClintock, Pamela (February 7, 2008). "Studios rush to fill '09 schedule". Variety. Archived from the original on June 22, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  5. ^ "Dickens theme for festive lights". BBC News. September 13, 2009. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. ^ Hall, James (September 12, 2009). "Disney's A Christmas Carol will be theme for London's Christmas lights". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on September 12, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "Disney to shut ImageMovers Digital studio". Los Angeles Times. March 13, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Robert Zemeckis Discusses Disney's a Christmas Carol". Movieweb. November 16, 2010. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  9. ^ Making the Trilogy: Part 1 featurette on the Back to the Future Trilogy DVD box set.
  10. ^ "In the Future: Jim Carrey". ComingSoon.net. March 7, 2008. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Young, Paul (October 20, 2009). "All A Bored Disney's 'A Christmas Carol' Train Tour". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  12. ^ ""A Christmas Carol" - Train Tour Update". Jim Carrey Online. May 17, 2019. Archived from the original on December 16, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Orndorf, Brian (November 8, 2010). "Disney's A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  14. ^ Garrett, Diane (January 7, 2010). "3D for the home coming". Variety. Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  15. ^ Eller, Claudia (November 10, 2009). "Disney Studios president leaves". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Wigler, Josh (November 9, 2009). "'A Christmas Carol' Defeats 'This Is It' At Box Office". MTV.com. Archived from the original on November 12, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  17. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on September 10, 2019. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  18. ^ "A Christmas Carol Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  19. ^ "Cinemascore". cinemascore.com. Archived from the original on January 2, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  20. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. November 5, 2009. Archived from the original on November 8, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  21. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 6, 2009. Archived from the original on November 7, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  22. ^ Neumaier, Joe (November 5, 2009). "Disney's A Christmas Carol in Disney Digital 3D: Blah, humbug! 'A Christmas Carol's 3-D spin on Dickens well done in parts but lacks spirit". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on November 9, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  23. ^ Williams, Mary Elizabeth (November 5, 2009). "Disney's "A Christmas Carol": Bah, humbug!". Salon.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  24. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (November 6, 2009). "'A Christmas Carol': Carrey, Disney Play Scrooge". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  25. ^ Robey, Tim (November 5, 2009). "A Christmas Carol, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  26. ^ Peter Bradshaw (November 6, 2009). "Film review: A Christmas Carol | Film". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on January 21, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  27. ^ "A Christmas Carol Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  28. ^ "Best (and Worst) of 2010". Time Out New York. December 18, 2009. Archived from the original on June 22, 2020. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  29. ^ "Alan Silvestri scores A Christmas Carol". ScoringSessions.com. December 22, 2009. Archived from the original on February 18, 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2020.

External links[edit]