The Christmas Chronicles

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The Christmas Chronicles
The Christmas Chronicles.png
Promotional poster
Directed byClay Kaytis
Produced by
Written byDavid J. Peterson (Elvish language translations only; uncredited)
Screenplay byMatt Lieberman
Story by
  • Matt Lieberman
  • David Guggenheim
Also starring
Other starsMartin Roach
Vella Lovell
Music byChristophe Beck
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited byDan Zimmerman
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • November 22, 2018 (2018-11-22)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Christmas Chronicles is a 2018 American Christmas film directed by Clay Kaytis from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman. The film stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It also stars Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Lamorne Morris, and with Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Oliver Hudson. Other stars include Martin Roach and Vella Lovell. The film was released on November 22, 2018, produced by 1492 Pictures and Wonder Worldwide, and distributed by Netflix.[1]

Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with a somewhat jolly Saint Nick and his loyal elves to save the holiday before it is too late.

The film features a conlang called Elvish. It was translated uncreditedly by David J. Peterson, and is spoken by Santa and the elves throughout the film. The Christmas Chronicles received mixed or average reviews from film critics. The criticism came to the computer-generated imagery effects and camp style, although Russell's performance was praised.


In Lowell, Massachusetts, Christmas has been a cherished tradition in the Pierce household for many years until 2018 when the father Doug (Oliver Hudson), a firefighter, dies in the line of duty. The widow mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) struggles to hold the family together, especially the older child, Teddy (Judah Lewis) who has started stealing cars. The younger child, Kate (Darby Camp) nevertheless hopes to keep the Christmas spirit alive.

On December 24, 2018, Claire is forced to fill in for a coworker, leaving Teddy to look after Kate. While watching old Christmas videos, Kate notices a strange arm appear out of the fireplace. Kate believes this is Santa Claus and asks Teddy to help her prove he exists. Teddy is skeptical and refuses to help, but Kate blackmails him with a video of him stealing a car earlier that day. The two set up a makeshift trip wire by the fireplace linking it to a Christmas bell and set up a camera behind a door with the knob removed where they wait.

Kate is woken up by the bell and sees Santa in their living room, but he leaves before Teddy can see him. However, they hear him moving on the roof and go outside. When they get on the street, they see Santa's sleigh and reindeer floating above them. They also see Santa hopping from rooftop to rooftop at light speed. Kate decides to hide in the sleigh to get a closer look at Santa, to which Teddy objects, though he reluctantly follows her. Santa eventually returns to the sleigh and rides off with the kids in tow. When Kate decides to make her presence known, Santa and the reindeer are startled and he loses control of the sleigh. After teleporting to Chicago, Illinois, the sleigh breaks down, causing the reindeer to scatter and the bag of presents to be lost.

When they crash, Santa (Kurt Russell) officially introduces himself to the kids, who are surprised at his different than expected appearance. Santa tells them that he has to get back to delivering presents as soon as possible or else Christmas Spirit will be gone, explaining that the last time it happened, the Dark Ages occurred. Without his hat, which was also lost in the crash, Santa can't move quickly or through tight spaces like he does, so the kids are forced to help him. They stop at a bar where Santa tries to seek help from the patrons by remembering all of their previous Christmas wishes. When they get no assistance, they eventually resolve to steal a 2014 Dodge Challenger, which itself was already stolen by the bartender, an ex-convict on the "Naughty List Hall of Fame".

On December 25, 2018, in the car, Santa makes a makeshift radio out of random objects to listen in to the police frequency, to locate his reindeer and lookout for patrol vehicles. They locate the reindeer but encounter a police car driven by police officers Dave Poveda (Martin Roach) and Mikey Jameson (Lamorne Morris). Kate goes after the reindeer by herself while Santa and Teddy lure the police away in the car. They eventually crash and make a vain attempt to explain that Santa is the *real* Santa, so Santa lets Teddy escape when Kate comes back with the reindeer, telling them to find his bag in which they can find help. The kids manage to fly away on the reindeer, which only Officer Jameson observes, leaving the other officers dumbstruck.

When they land, Teddy confides to Kate that he wishes he could speak to their dad one more time. They find the bag in a park and Kate goes into the bag to find help. She ends up getting teleported to the North Pole. She finds a letter written to Santa by Teddy this year, where he asks Santa to allow him to speak to his dad. She then spots the elves, who have her tied up. When she explains what happened to Santa, they show her a book called "True Believers" and sees that her entire family is listed, except for Teddy. Seeing that Kate is a True Believer, the elves agree to help her.

Meanwhile, Teddy is attacked by a group of thugs who take him and the bag to their hideout. When the leader finds the bag filled with presents with coal in them, he tries to dispose of the bag and Teddy until the elves come out and attack everyone. They think Teddy is one of the thugs and attack him as well until Kate stops them. The group then goes to repair Santa's sleigh.

At the police precinct, Santa tries to explain his situation to Officer Poveda, who is unconvinced, even when Santa correctly tells him about his own life. He even magically pulls out toys Poveda wanted as a child to try and convince him, but Poveda remains skeptical. When Santa reveals his wish this year is to reconcile with his ex-wife Lisa, who also shares that wish, Poveda is taken aback, but still refuses to believe him and has him locked in the holding cell, though he becomes suspicious when he sees a larger number of arrests than usual on Christmas Eve. Seeing that Christmas Spirit has gotten too low, Santa gathers all the inmates to perform a musical number of "Santa Claus Is Back in Town", which works amongst all the officers except Poveda. Poveda is finally convinced when he receives a call from Lisa, who invites him out for coffee in the morning, and agrees to let Santa go. One of the elves arrives through the air vent to give Santa a spare hat. Santa goes outside to find his sleigh repaired.

Santa sees that he only has an hour until morning to complete delivering presents, so the kids agree to help him, with Teddy driving the sleigh and Kate tossing presents to Santa so he can move faster than usual. With additional help from the elves, Santa delivers the final present with milliseconds to spare. Santa drops the kids off back at their home before their mother returns. Santa gives Teddy his hat as a memento, showing that he didn't really need it. When he leaves, he gives Kate a "Ho, Ho, Ho", a saying he previously stated was an urban myth about him. Kate is ecstatic that she recorded the night's events on camera but finds that Santa has taken the tape, with Teddy remarking that Santa would never have allowed her to keep it.

When Claire returns, they go inside to find the living room decorated like their father used to. They start opening presents, including their customary horrendous sweaters from their aunt. When they get to Santa's gifts, Kate gets the skateboard she asked for, while Teddy gets a letter from Santa explaining that, while he was unable to grant his wish, he intended to do his best by giving Teddy an old magic ornament. When Teddy hangs it on the tree, he sees his dad magically appear in his reflection, and they both express pride in each other.

Back in the North Pole, Santa is updating his book of True Believers, adding Teddy's name to it, when Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) returns with firewood and asks to hear about his adventures. When she suggests they get a Christmas movie to watch (she lists 3 films, including It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and an uncertain Grinch film (she could have been talking about the 2018 film), Santa takes out the video recording of his adventure that night and suggests that they watch that.


  • Kate Pierce (portrayed by Darby Camp)
An enthusiastic 11-year-old girl who is Teddy's younger sister and Claire and Doug's daughter. Unlike Teddy, Kate has faith in Santa, and decides to find Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve.
A Christmas legend who brings people presents for people at night, when they are asleep. He is believed to have a trademark laugh, "Ho, ho, ho!", but it is claimed to be mythical. He has elves and reindeer that can fly. He also has a sleigh that he flies at night, with the reindeer moving it. Coincidentally, Russell was considered for the role as Scott Calvin / Santa Claus in the 1994 film The Santa Clause, but the role was given to Tim Allen. Mrs. Claus (portrayed by an uncredited Goldie Hawn), Santa's wife, appears at the very end of the film.
A 16 year old boy, Kate's older brother, and Claire and Doug's son who formerly had faith in Santa, but became a rebel after the loss of his father. He, along with his friends, likes to steal cars from other people whenever they aren't looking, but never gets arrested or found by his mother. He loathes his younger sister Kate, but he formerly loved her. Teddy loves Kate at the end of the film.

A police officer who lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Teddy and Kate's widow mother and Doug's widow wife. She is a nurse at a hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Teddy and Kate’s deceased father, Claire's deceased husband, and a deceased firefighter who died in the line of duty.

Other characters[edit]

  • Officer Dave Poveda (portrayed by Martin Roach)
Another police officer who lives in Chicago, Illinois. He doesn't remember Santa Claus.
She works at a bar. Like Dave, Wendy doesn't remember Santa. She desired to be a fashion designer, and go to Parsons School of Design and live in New York, but she couldn't afford the tuition.
Santa has small elves that look similar to kittens. They are furry and small and wear elf hats. They speak Elvish, a language that Santa speaks and Kate learns. The elves are computer-generated.


In December 2017, it was reported that Kurt Russell would star as Santa Claus in a Netflix film.[2] The film was later given the title The Christmas Chronicles and was released on November 22, 2018.[3]

Principal photography began in January 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.[2] However, the film was set in Lowell, Massachusetts and Chicago, Illinois.[4]


Kurt Russell was praised for his performance.

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 70% of 47 surveyed film critics gave the film a positive review. The website's critical consensus reads, "Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option -- or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell -- should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6]

According to an announcement by chief content officer for Netflix, Ted Sarandos, the film earned 20 million streams in its first week on Netflix.[7]


  1. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles Teaser Netflix". Netflix YouTube channel. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  2. ^ a b Kit, Borys (2017-12-05). "Kurt Russell to Play Santa Claus in Netflix Christmas Movie (Exclusive)". TheHollywoodReporter. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  3. ^ "Netflix Is Closing Out 2018 With One Hell of an Original Film Slate". Film School Rejects. August 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "Netflix's The Christmas Chronicles introduces a Santa who can get it". Vox. November 26, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  6. ^ "The Christmas Chronicles Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Sharf, Zack; Sharf, Zack (2018-12-03). "Netflix's 'Christmas Chronicles' Breaks 20 Million Streams in One Week". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-12-05.

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