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The Santa Clause

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The Santa Clause
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Pasquin
Written byLeo Benvenuti
Steve Rudnick
Produced byBrian Reilly
Jeffrey Silver
Robert Newmyer
CinematographyWalt Lloyd
Edited byLarry Bock
Music byMichael Convertino
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release dates
  • November 5, 1994 (1994-11-05) (Hollywood)
  • November 11, 1994 (1994-11-11) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million[1]
Box office$190.3 million[1]

The Santa Clause is a 1994 American Christmas comedy film directed by John Pasquin and written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick. The first installment in The Santa Clause franchise, it stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus (played by Tim Allen's actual stunt double, Steve Lucescu) to fall from his roof to his supposed death on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish the late St. Nick's trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole where Scott learns that he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause premiered at Hollywood on November 5, 1994, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 11. It grossed $190 million worldwide, and received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, and it has since become a Christmas-time staple among viewers.[2][3][4] Its success led to two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), which were both financially successful despite the former's mixed and the latter's negative reception. The franchise continues with a follow-up series, The Santa Clauses, which premiered November 16, 2022 on Disney+.

The film was originally going to be released under the Hollywood Pictures banner, but following positive test screenings among children, it was transferred to the Walt Disney Pictures banner. [citation needed]


37-year-old Scott Calvin is a marketing director for a toy company at Lakeside, Illinois, who prepares to spend Christmas Eve with his 8-year-old son Charlie. Scott wants Charlie to maintain his belief in Santa Claus, despite not believing himself. Scott's ex-wife Laura and her psychiatrist husband Dr. Neal Miller stopped believing in Santa at a young age and feel it is time for Charlie to do the same.

Following an evening at Denny's (after Scott accidentally burned the dinner at home), Scott and Charlie are awakened that night by a noise on the roof. While investigating, Scott startles Santa Claus, who falls off the roof and dies. Santa's body vanishes, leaving behind a red suit and business card stating that if anything were to happen to him, someone should put on the suit and the reindeer will know what to do. Scott and Charlie find Santa’s sleigh and reindeer on the roof. At Charlie's request, Scott reluctantly dons the suit and spends the rest of the night delivering gifts before the reindeer take them to the North Pole.

It turns out that, by putting on the suit, Scott is subject to a legal technicality known as "The Santa Clause," and has accepted all of the late Santa's duties and responsibilities. The head elf, Bernard, gives Scott eleven months to get his affairs in order before reporting back to the North Pole on Thanksgiving. Overwhelmed, Scott changes into the pajamas provided to him and falls asleep. The next morning, Scott awakes in his own bed and believes the previous events were a dream, but realizes he is still wearing the pajamas given to him. Charlie is proud that his father is the new Santa Claus, and this arouses concern in Laura, Neal, and the school staff. Scott, not wanting to destroy Charlie's newfound enthusiasm, asks him to keep their North Pole trip a secret.

Over the next year, Scott undergoes a drastic transformation; he gains weight and develops an increased fondness for sweets, particularly milk and cookies. He develops a white beard that instantly regrows after shaving, and his hair turns white in spite of attempts to dye it. During a meeting with his company, Scott is angered at a proposal to advertise a toy military tank by showing Santa riding it. Scott also begins to recount 'naughty' and 'nice' children by name when he sees them. After Laura and Neal witness children wanting to sit on Scott's lap at Charlie's soccer game, they assume Scott is deliberately misleading Charlie and decide to have a judge suspend Scott's visitation rights.

On Thanksgiving, a devastated Scott goes to Laura and Neal's house to see Charlie one last time. Charlie, desperate to help Scott realize how important he is to the children of the world, shows him a magical snow globe (a gift from Bernard), convincing Scott that he really is Santa. When Laura and Neal allow Scott a minute to talk to Charlie alone, Bernard appears and transports father and son to the North Pole. Thinking Scott has kidnapped Charlie, Laura and Neal call the police.

Scott sets out to deliver gifts with Charlie in tow. Upon arriving at Laura and Neal's home, Scott is arrested inside the house while Charlie waits for him in the sleigh. The elves eventually break him out of jail. Scott returns Charlie to his house and insists he spend Christmas Eve with Laura and Neal. His heartfelt speech to Charlie about the importance of everyone in the family convinces Laura and Neal that he is Santa. Laura burns the court documents suspending Scott's visitation rights, and tells him he can visit anytime. According to Bernard, any time Charlie shakes his snow globe, his father will appear. Before leaving, Scott gives Laura and Neal the two presents that they never got as children, which caused their disbelief in Santa. His takeoff from the roof proves his identity to the police and various witnesses outside the house. After Scott leaves, Charlie summons him back with the snow globe, and Laura agrees to let them go together in the sleigh to finish delivering the presents.



The script was written on spec by Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti.[5] In November 1992, it was announced Hollywood Pictures had acquired the script as a potential starring vehicle for Tim Allen.[5]

The film was shot at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California,[6] and on location in the Greater Toronto Area, with Oakville serving as the city of Lakeside, Illinois. The reindeer used in the film were all from the Toronto Zoo. The trains used in the North Pole scene and the start of the film were all made by LGB.[7]

Bill Murray and Chevy Chase[8] were offered the role of Scott Calvin, but both turned it down; Chase declined due to scheduling conflicts, and Murray did not want to do another holiday-themed movie after doing Scrooged. Tom Selleck, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, and Mel Gibson were also considered for the role. Jeff Daniels, Stanley Tucci and Bradley Whitford were considered for the role of Neal Miller. Patricia Richardson, Patricia Clarkson, Patricia Heaton, and Kate Burton were considered for the role of Laura Miller.[9][10]


Box office[edit]

The Santa Clause grossed $145.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $45 million in other territories, for a worldwide, total of $190.3 million.[11]

The film grossed $19.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing second at the US box office behind Interview with the Vampire which opened with $36 million.[12][13] In its second weekend it grossed $17.1 million, finishing third. Over the three-day Thanksgiving frame it then made $20.4 million.[14] In November 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting new releases, The Santa Clause was re-released into 1,581 theaters and grossed $711,000.[15][16]

Freeform and AMC have played the film on television during the holiday season with record ratings.[17]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it's firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films."[18] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on reviews from 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[19] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade "A−" on scale of A+ to F.[20]

Sandi Davis of The Oklahoman ended up placing the film sixth overall on her list of the best films of 1994.[21]

Home media[edit]

The Santa Clause was released on VHS and LaserDisc on October 25, 1995.[22]

At one point in the film, a brief exchange between Scott and Laura takes place in which Laura hands Scott a piece of paper with Neal's mother's phone number on it. Scott then says "1-800-SPANK-ME. I know that number." In 1996, this line caused an incident in which a child from Steilacoom, Washington called the number (which turned out to be an actual, working sex line number) and incurred a phone bill of US$400 (equivalent to $777.08 in 2023).[23] Beginning with the 1999 DVD release, the exchange was removed from all future United States home media releases of the film (though it remains in the earlier released VHS and LaserDisc releases) and most digital downloads. The line is also removed from the Disney+ print. On television broadcasts, the number is changed to 1-800-POUND.[24]

A special edition DVD of The Santa Clause was released on DVD on October 29, 2002, and was presented in widescreen and fullscreen versions.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Santa Clause (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "Top Ten Christmas Movies Of All Time". Thetoptens.com. Archived from the original on June 18, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "The 50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Patches, Dan Jackson, Matt (December 22, 2017). "The 50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time". Thrillist. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "H'wood aims to nail Allen for 'Clause'". Variety. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Rowan, Terry (16 September 2016). Character-Based Film Sereies Part 1. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781365421051.
  7. ^ "Reel Toronto: The Santa Clause". Torontoist. Archived from the original on 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  8. ^ Evans, Bradford (September 22, 2011). "The Lost Roles of Chevy Chase". Vulture. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  9. ^ Bricker, Tierney (November 11, 2019). "25 Secrets About The Santa Clause Revealed". E!. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  10. ^ Jackson, Matthew (December 19, 2019). "14 Festive Facts About The Santa Clause". Mental Floss. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  11. ^ "The Santa Clause (1994): All Releases". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  12. ^ Natale, Richard (November 14, 1994). "Love at First Bite: 'Vampire' Tears Into Box Office : Movies: Warners film looks to be the fourth largest debut ever. 'Santa Clause' sleighs into the No. 2 spot with a solid take". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
  13. ^ Klady, Leonard (November 15, 1994). "Playing the numbers". Daily Variety. p. 3.
  14. ^ "The Santa Clause (1994): Original Release". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 25, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (November 22, 2020). "'Freaky' Repeats as Winner of Quiet U.S. Box Office With $1.2 Million". Variety. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Santa Clause (2020 Re-Release)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  17. ^ Natale, Richard (1994-12-12). "Disclosure Edges Out 'Santa' at the Box Office Movies: Much-hyped sexual-harassment drama pushes aside the Tim Allen heavyweight". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2019-06-05. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  18. ^ "The Santa Clause". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on 4 May 2022. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  19. ^ "The Santa Clause Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  20. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on April 13, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  21. ^ Davis, Sandi (January 1, 1995). "Oklahoman Movie Critics Rank Their Favorites for the Year "Forrest Gump" The Very Best, Sandi Declares". The Oklahoman. Archived from the original on July 20, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  22. ^ "'Batman,' 'The Cure' flip-flopped in Japan". El Paso Times. September 29, 1995. p. 61. Archived from the original on April 4, 2023. Retrieved April 4, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  23. ^ Gilje, Shelby (October 19, 1997). "'Santa Clause' Has A Line That Could Invite Trouble". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 2020-02-26. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  24. ^ Jennings, Collier (2023-12-14). "Disney Needed To Remove This Very Naughty Detail From 'The Santa Clause'". Collider. Retrieved 2024-04-27.
  25. ^ "The Santa Clause: Special Edition DVD Review". DVDizzy.com.

External links[edit]