The Santa Clause

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The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Pasquin
Produced byRobert Newmyer
Brian Reilly
Jeffrey Silver
Written byLeo Benvenuti
Steve Rudnick
Music byMichael Convertino
CinematographyWalt Lloyd
Edited byLarry Bock
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • November 11, 1994 (1994-11-11)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million[1]
Box office$189.8 million[1]

The Santa Clause is a 1994 American Christmas comedy film written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, and directed by John Pasquin. The first film in the Santa Clause film series, 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 on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish 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 film was released on November 11, 1994, and grossed $189 million. While it received mixed reviews at the time, 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 but suffered critical decline.


Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a successful toy salesman, prepares to spend Christmas Eve with his young son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). Scott wants Charlie to maintain his belief in Santa Claus, despite not believing himself. Scott's former wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her psychiatrist husband Dr. Neal Miller (Judge Reinhold) both stopped believing in Santa at a young age and feel that Charlie needs to do so as well.

On Christmas Eve, Scott and Charlie are awakened by a noise on the roof. Scott investigates and finds a man standing on the roof, whom Scott startles into slipping and falling to the ground. The dead man's body disappears and leaves behind a red suit and business card stating that if anything were to happen to Santa Claus, whoever is responsible would have to put on the suit and continue from where Santa left off. Assured by the card that "the Reindeer will know what to do" and to please Charlie, Scott dons the suit and spends the rest of the night delivering gifts before the reindeer take them to the North Pole. Once they arrive, Bernard (David Krumholtz), the head elf, explains to Scott that because he put on the suit, he is subjected to a legal technicality known as "The Santa Clause", meaning that he has agreed to accept all of Santa's duties and responsibilities, and gives him eleven months to get his affairs in order before reporting back to the North Pole on Thanksgiving. Confused and overwhelmed, Scott changes into the pajamas provided to him and falls asleep.

The next morning, Scott awakes in his own bed and believes that the events of the prior night were a dream until he sees that he is still wearing the pajamas that were given to him. Over the course of the following year, Scott undergoes a drastic transformation; he begins to gain a large amount of weight, along with an increased liking for sweet food, especially milk and cookies. He later develops a thick beard that grows on his face in spite of attempts to shave it, and his hair whitens and proves immune to dyeing. Scott's altered state brings Laura and Neal to the assumption that Scott is deliberately attempting to confuse Charlie, and they successfully petition a judge to suspend Scott's visitation rights. Devastated, Scott goes to Laura and Neal's house on Thanksgiving. Desperate to help his father realize how important he is, Charlie shows Scott a magical snow globe that Bernard had given him, finally convincing Scott that he is Santa. After Scott asks Laura and Neal a minute to talk to Charlie alone, Bernard appears and transports him and Charlie to the North Pole. Believing that Scott has kidnapped Charlie, Laura and Neal contact the police.

On Christmas Eve, Scott sets out to deliver the gifts with Charlie in tow. However, upon arriving at Laura and Neal's home, Scott is arrested. The elves send a rescue team to help him escape from jail. Scott returns to Laura and Neal's house and manages to convince them that he is Santa, and asks Charlie to spend Christmas with them as they are his family too. Finally learning her mistake of refusing to accept that Scott is Santa, Laura burns the court papers, banning Scott's visitation rights, and tells him that he can visit anytime. Bernard then appears and tells Charlie that if he shakes his snow globe at any time, his father will appear. Before leaving, Scott gives Laura and Neal two Christmas presents that they never got as children (which caused their disbelief in Santa). When the police try to arrest him, Scott is able to prove his identity to them and the witnesses before heading off. Neal apologizes to Charlie for refusing to accept that Scott is Santa and Charlie forgives him.

Shortly after he leaves, Charlie summons Scott back home with the snow globe. Laura agrees to let Charlie go with Scott for a short ride in the sleigh and let him finish his deliveries with him. Scott embraces his new role as Santa and leaves with Charlie to deliver the presents.



This film was entirely shot in the Greater Toronto Area. Oakville served 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 are all LGB.[5]

Bill Murray and Chevy Chase[6] were offered for the role of Scott Calvin, but both turned it down due Murray not being interest making another holiday theme projected after doing Scrooged, and Chase declined the offer due to scheduling conflicts. 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.[7]


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.[8]

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.[9] It its second weekend it grossed $17.1 million, finishing third. Over the three-day Thanksgiving frame it then made $20.4 million.[10] 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.[11][12]

Freeform and AMC have played the film on television during the holiday season with record ratings.[13]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 57 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."[14] 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".[15] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade "A–" on scale of A+ to F.[16]

Sandi Davis of The Oklahoman ended up placing the film sixth overall on her list of the best films of 1994.[17]

Home media[edit]

At one point of 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 the United States, the exchange was removed from all home media releases of the film except for the VHS releases and most digital downloads starting with the 1999 DVD release after a 1996 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 $660.05 in 2020).[18] The line is also removed from the Disney+ print. On television broadcasts, the number is changed to 1-800-POUND.


  1. ^ a b "The Santa Clause (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "Top Ten Christmas Movies Of All Time". Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "The 50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Patches, Dan Jackson, Matt (December 22, 2017). "The 50 Best Christmas Movies of All Time". Thrillist. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Reel Toronto: The Santa Clause". Torontoist. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Santa Clause (1994): All Releases". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Klady, Leonard (November 15, 1994). "Playing the numbers". Daily Variety. p. 3.
  10. ^ "The Santa Clause (1994): Original Release". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (November 22, 2020). "'Freaky' Repeats as Winner of Quiet U.S. Box Office With $1.2 Million". Variety. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "The Santa Clause (2020 Re-Release)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  13. ^ 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". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  14. ^ "The Santa Clause". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  15. ^ "The Santa Clause Reviews". Metacritic.
  16. ^ "SANTA CLAUSE, THE (1994) A-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  17. ^ Davis, Sandi (January 1, 1995). "Oklahoman Movie Critics Rank Their Favorites for the Year "Forrest Gump" The Very Best, Sandi Declares". The Oklahoman. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  18. ^ Shelby Gilje (October 19, 1997). "'Santa Clause' Has A Line That Could Invite Trouble". Seattle Times Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-12-04.

External links[edit]