10 Updates
When Superman: The Movie Became Santa Claus: The Movie
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

When Superman: The Movie Became Santa Claus: The Movie

Dec 25 2013, 12:05pm CST | by

This December 15th was the 35th anniversary of the theatrical release of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie. The groundbreaking superhero adventure was of course a massive box office smash,...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

30 weeks ago

When Superman: The Movie Became Santa Claus: The Movie

Dec 25 2013, 12:05pm CST | by

This December 15th was the 35th anniversary of the theatrical release of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie. The groundbreaking superhero adventure was of course a massive box office smash, earning $300 million worldwide way back in 1978, making it one of the ten-biggest global success of all time at that moment. Despite a tumultuous production that involved shooting two films at the same time, a record-high budget of around $55 million for the first film, and enough backstage intrigue to fill a very long book, the Warner Bros. picture earned rave reviews, a special Oscar for its groundbreaking special effects (yes, we did believe a man could fly), and a place in the history books as the template for pretty much every superhero origin story that would follow in its footsteps. Yes, watching Superman: The Movie makes you realize just how perfectly Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz distilled the iconic three-act origin story structure (initial trauma and/or discovery of powers, experimentation with powers and public appearances, discovery and showdown with the arch villain) for that kind of heroic journey, paving the way for Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, and Santa Claus.

Wait, Santa Claus? Yes, Santa Claus. Most of you have probably never seen the 1985 box office flop Santa Claus: The Movie. It came out over Thanksgiving weekend of 1985 and got hammered by MGM’s Rocky IV. The film opened with just $5.6 million (good for #2 back in those days) and ended its run with $23.7m, or just a touch more than the $19m that Rocky IV made over the Fri-Sun portion of Thanksgiving. The picture, which was a US/Britain co-production distributed by Tri-Star (which is now a division of Sony), and it’s frankly not very good at all. Costing $55m, the film was produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the father/son producing duo responsible for the Superman film franchise. It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, who had just directed the failed 1984 Warner Bros. release  Supergirl ($14m in domestic grosses) for the producing duo. This is all important because if you ever get around to watching Santa Claus: The Movie, you’ll notice that it’s basically a remake of Superman: The Movie.

I’m not going to rehash the entire plot, but if you boil down the film’s narrative structure, as well as major plot points, it’s beat-for-beat a case of pouring the Superman formula into a Santa Claus Christmas mug. Both film’s first acts concern an allegedly grand and mythic retelling of their hero’s basic origins. It’s all would-be Claus David Huddleston can do not to open the picture by gravely intoning that “this is no fantasy”. The film opens with Claus and his wife delivering toys to kids in a local village only to be caught in a blinding snowstorm.  They freeze to death only to be rescued and revived inside a magical place at the North Pole by what would become Santa’s elves.  The rest of the first third involves Claus learning the ropes of how he would eventually become that guy who flies around the world in a sleigh delivering presents to every child on Earth.

After this “discovery of powers” act, we’re off to the middle chunk of the movie, which drops are now able-bodied hero into the big city populace so he can do his thing and perform his respective magic. The Earth person that Superman latches onto is of course Lois Lane, because Margot Kidder is smart and hot. Claus is married, so his Earthbound companion is a young homeless boy who gets to ride on Santa’s sleigh in a scene in no way meant to remind audiences of Superman’s night flight with Lois Lane (no, the kid doesn’t ask Santa if he can read his mind). And of course, unbeknownst to Santa Claus, there is a villainous scheme afoot. John Lithgow’s evil toy maker B.Z. is in no way supposed to remind anyone of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, even if his scheme to take over Christmas by selling magical candy canes that (unbeknownst to him) will explode when exposed to light will likely feel more at home with Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Santa Claus saves the day with the help of his favorite orphan and Dudley Moore as a disgraced elf in need of redemption, Christmas is saved, Santa Claus is again a believer in the power of giving, and B.Z.’s exploding candy canes accidentally free the three murderous super-powered elves who were exiled at the film’s conclusion, setting up a grand cliffhanger for Santa Claus II. How I wish I weren’t making that last part up. It’s not an exact match anymore than Batman Begins is exactly like Spider-Man. But the using of the Superman: The Movie formula to try and craft an equally definitive Santa Claus movie (something the filmmakers are more than upfront about on the blu-ray bonus features) makes the film somewhat ahead-of-its time. This is both an amusing curiosity that I’ve wanted to write about for years and a strange example of a film distinctly ahead of its time.

Today we see formula appropriation all the time, from the obvious examples of comic book origin films (pour the Superman: The Movie formula into the Captain America universe and *poof*, Captain America: The First Avenger) to the current trend of darker or more action-packed fairy tale revamps such as Alice In Wonderland and Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersSanta Claus: The Movie is not a good film, but it is a fascinating exhibit of one of the first modern examples of what Corey Ated called “The Epic-ifcation of the Hollywood Blockbuster “. The Salkinds didn’t just want to make a Santa Claus movie. They wanted to make THE Santa Claus movie, turning our jolly old gift-giving elf into the equivalent of a superhero and his film into a would-be blockbuster adventure. Today this kind of thing is taken for granted, as we have seen in the likes of Snow White and the Huntsman or Oz: The Great and Powerful.

But in 1985, just eight years after Star Wars and four years before Batman, audiences were barely used to the idea of the blockbuster itself, let alone the idea of taking well-known properties that weren’t inherently appropriate for “epic-fication”  and blowing them up to epic scale. The world wasn’t ready for a film like Santa Claus: The Movie back in 1985. The world would clearly be ready for such a thing today. I’m not sure if that’s progress. For those who are curious today, you can buy the film for $10 either on Amazon Instant Video or via its Lionsgate-distributed 25th Anniversary blu-ray from any online outlet. Or you can watch it right now via Netflix Instant (I probably should have started with that option). I’m not saying you should, but you can. It’s a bizarre curiosity and a sign of what was to come.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken in ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM20 mi ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramada ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skywa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Green spaces impact birth weight positively
London, July 29 (IANS) Where expecting mothers live can also have a bearing on the birth weight of their babies as researchers have found that mothers who live near green spaces deliver babies with significantly higher birth weights.
 
 
What makes you a pessimist?
London, July 29 (IANS) Cannot see thing turning out to be all right? A hyperactive habenula, half the size of a pea in the brain that tracks predictions about negative events, could be the key, a study suggests.
 
 
Russian space 'sex geckos' are safe for now
Moscow, July 29 (IANS) There is good news for the geckos aboard the Russian Foton-M4 space satellite meant to study the effects of microgravity on sex and reproduction.
 
 
This is why dogs sniff each other's butts
New York, July 29 (IANS) You may have witnessed this scene on the road quite often but the answer to why dogs sniff each other's butts is hidden in the chemical communication at the rear end.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Shuttlers Srikanth, Gurusaidutt reach Round of 32
Glasgow, July 30 (IANS) Indian shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and R.M.V. Gurusaidutt won their respective matches to enter the men's singles Round of 32 at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday. Rising star Srikanth had an...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
India in trouble as England bowlers heap more misery (Roundup)
Southampton, July 29 (IANS) India found themselves in deep trouble, trailing England by 246 runs but but more importantly needing 47 more runs to avoid a follow-on with only two wickets in hand at the end of day three...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian shooters bring home five more medals (Shooting Roundup)
Glasgow, July 30 (IANS) Trigger happy Indian shooters had a gala outing at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday as they brought in five more medals -- two silvers and three bronzes -- from their respective events with...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Onerous twin task for India (Analysis)
Southampton, July 29 (IANS/RAY) India have an onerous twin task of having to compile runs and consume time to save the 3rd Test match to maintain their 1-0 lead in the five-Test series. England's first innings total...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Scoreboard: India vs England, day 3, third Test
Southampton, July 29 (IANS) The following is the day three scoreboard of the third cricket Test between India and England at The Rose Bowl here Tuesday: England (first innings 569/7 declared) India (first innings,...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
100 more killed in Gaza as truce offer hangs in balance (Roundup)
Gaza, July 29 (IANS/EFE) At least 100 Palestinians were killed Tuesday in the heaviest air and ground bombardment by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip since the launch of Operation Protective Edge July 8 as an...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
India 323/8 in first innings at stumps
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) India were 323 for eight in the first innings at stumps on the third day of the third cricket Test against England at The Rose Bowl here Tuesday. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was batting...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian medal winners at 2014 Commonwealth Games
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) The following is the list of Indian medal winners at the 20th Commonwealth Games: Gold Sanjita Khumukchan: women's 48 kg weightlifting Sukhen Dey: men's 56 kg weightlifting Abhinav Bindra: men'...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Indian wrestler Tomar settles for silver
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Indian wrestler Rajeev Tomar lost the men's 125kg freestyle final match to Canada's Korey Jarvis and settled for the silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the Scottish Exhibition and...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ashwini fails to enter women's 400m hurdles finals
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Indian athlete Ashwini Akkunji failed to qualify for the women's 400 metres hurdles final at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday. The 26-year-old Ashwini could only manage to finish fifth out...
Read more on Sport Balla