HOLIDAY MOVIES: ONES TO WATCH
The sidewalks are lit up with twinkling lights and festive music is on every station. We have officially entered the holiday season and there’s truly no better time to curl up with some popcorn and a festive film. Or two.
So, here’s our holiday viewing guide, featuring feel-good, festive productions filmed right here in Utah. Including newly released productions (some of them airing this month) as well as classics from almost 40 years ago, this viewing guide is sure to keep you entertained throughout the holiday season and well into the New Year.
And if you’re wondering why these filmmakers chose to shoot in Utah, look no further than the state’s backdrops, experienced crews and supportive Film Commission – not to mention the locals’ unadulterated enthusiasm for the holiday season. “From our world-class ski resorts to our charming suburban neighborhoods, we have a diverse and uniquely accessible location offering that keeps filmmakers coming back”, said Utah Film Commission Director, Virginia Pearce.
The Utah Film Commission’s Festive Viewing Guide:
Mr Krueger’s Christmas (1980)
Filmed in Salt Lake City, this NBC Christmas special, starring James Stewart, became a household classic in Utah following its premiere on December 21st, 1980. Featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the short tells the tale of an elderly widower who relies on his daydreams and faith to get through a lonely Christmas.
Better Off Dead (1985)
Starring John Cusack, this American teen romantic comedy tells the story of high school student and avid-skier, Lane Myer, who is suicidal after his girlfriend breaks up with him shortly before Christmas. Scenes were filmed at Snowbird, Alta and Brighton Resorts here in Utah.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
The comedic cross-country adventures of Lloyd and Harry premiered just in time for Christmas in 1994. We all remember those festive scenes, from the two friends shivering into ‘Aspen’ (which was really Park City) on their Vespa, to Jim Carrey’s aptly named ‘Lloyd Christmas’ entertaining friends at an imaginary festive gathering, with Christmas sweaters and all.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Who knew that one of the film locations for the Dr. Seuss classic, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen, was right here in Utah? For those who aren’t familiar, the movie is set in the outskirts of ‘Whoville’, where a green, revenge-seeking Grinch plans on ruining Christmas for all the citizens. Shot at Solitude Mountain Resort, Jim Carrey’s Grinch battles the powdery snow at the tip of a mountain, with a beautiful sunset backdrop.
Good Luck Charlie, it’s Christmas! (2011)
Based on the popular Disney Channel Original Series, Good Luck Charlie, this festive film follows the Duncan family’s road trip. Idiocy strikes when a woman and her daughter get separated from their family during the holidays. The production filmed in Salt Lake City and St. George between March and September 2011.
Christmas Under Wraps (2014)
This was the first Hallmark Channel holiday movie to shoot in Utah and the network has continued to return. Starring Candace Cameron Bure, Christmas Under Wraps broke Hallmark Channel records, becoming cable’s top-rated original movie of the year and the second-most-watched. Set in an Alaskan town, filming locations included Salt Lake City, Payson and Heber City.
Christmas Land (2015)
Filmed in Salt Lake City, Farmington (Pioneer Village, located in the Lagoon Amusement Park) and Riverton, this Hallmark Channel love story is set in a magical Christmas-themed village and Christmas tree farm in the countryside.
Switched for Christmas (2017)
Candace Cameron Bure returned to Utah to film the story of twin sisters who swap lives until Christmas Day. In doing so, each woman gains a deeper perspective and appreciation of what she has. Filmed in downtown Salt Lake, Federal Heights and the Utah State Fair Park, the movie premiered on the Hallmark Channel in November 2017, landing the best ratings of any of the channel’s yuletide films, scoring 5.17 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49.
Enchanted Christmas (2017)
This made-in-Utah holiday movie filmed on location at Midway’s Zermatt Lodge, also premiered on the Hallmark Channel. Starring Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, the movie is set in Utah and follows a young widow as she spearheads a hotel renovation ahead of a Christmas Eve benefit, finding love along the way.
Wrapped Up in Christmas (2017)
Filmed in Provo Towne Center earlier this year, this holiday movie showcased on Lifetime. Starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana Ali, it’s the tale of a mall manager who falls for a widower filling in for the mall’s Santa.
Little Women (September 2018)
Filmed in Salt Lake County, the recently released Little Women is a modern-day take on Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age tale of sisterhood. Four sisters live with their mother, facing Christmas without their father as war is underway. Clare Niederpruem, who acted in the Utah-made film, Once I Was a Beehive, made her directorial debut with this feel-good production. Lea Thompson plays the family matriarch, Marmie, while High School Musical’s Lucas Grabeel returned to Utah for the role of Laurie.
Christmas Inn (September 2018)
Filmed in Payson and Provo, this romantic, festive film was produced by Hybrid Entertainment and aired on Lifetime in September. It stars Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Jackée Harry (Sister Sister),
Jingle Belle (November 2018)
Jingle Belle was filmed in the Brigham City and Ogden areas. Starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana Ali, who also played the lead in the Utah-made Wrapped Up in Christmas (2017), this film premiered on Lifetime on November 25th. Her character, Belle, returns to her hometown for the holidays and help write a song for their Christmas concert. She doesn’t know, however, that the show’s director is her ex, Michael, played by Scandal’s Cornelius Smith Jr.
Christmas Wonderland (December 1, 2018)
Filmed in Bountiful, Farmington and downtown Salt Lake, this Hybrid Entertainment production follows Heidi (Emily Osment) as she finds herself torn between the life she has in the city and the small-town life she is surprisingly charmed by.
Shoelaces for Christmas (December 2, 2018)
Made in Utah by Utah natives, this production was directed, written and produced by Craig Clyde and line produced and co-written by Bryce Fillmore. Filmed in Draper City, the film premiered on BYUTV.
Christmas Made to Order (December 23, 2018)
Starring Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls) and Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids), Christmas Made to Order will premiere on Hallmark on December 23rd.
Debra Vago is a publicist, writer and film enthusiast. She resides in Salt Lake City, having relocated from London, England.
Contact Debra for any Utah Film Commission press and media inquires at firstname.lastname@example.org.