‘A Christmas Carol’ – the story’s popularity explained

Hi Film Folk.

It was the last post before Christmas, when all through the house, all of our readers wondered – what is it about A Christmas Carol, year after year after year after year?!?!?!

This week The Film Doctor Team have decided to light-heartedly study what it is about Charles Dickens‘s famous tale that has inspired countless TV and movie versions since the dawn of the moving picture.

So what is it about the story that keeps it cropping up?

Christmas time

As if it wasn’t obvious enough – the very fact that it’s Christmas means programmers want to deliver Christmas-based treats to their audiences. Just as big family animations are scheduled for school breaks, A Christmas Carol crops up seasonally. In fact, it’s in a unique position (along with other Christmas hits) in that it can be exploited on a recurring basis every year. The Christmas holidays are unmatchable for their cheer and spirit and the only part of the year ripe for repeated worldwide exploitation.


A time to reflect

Christmas comes towards the end of the western year which, since we instinctively view life in beginnings, middles and ends (birth-life-death etc), brings about a period of introspection for many people, especially with the nearby New Year where many resolutions and changes take place. Reflection is the lifeblood of A Christmas Carol. From the second Scrooge meets his first ghost he is forced to confront images of himself and the people around him either being happy in spite of him or miserable because of him. When we view material we naturally juxtapose the experiences of the characters we connect to with our own. Since the story is ALL about reflection, the world connects and wonders what they could have changed in their behaviour or will change in the future


Based on pre-existing material & out of copyright

Every good producer will know that material with public awareness is always favourable for box office/ratings (all those crying murder over remakes, sequels, prequels – that’s why) as many cinemagoers naturally glide towards stories (and actors/directors) that they are familiar with. A Christmas Carol is a behemoth in the literary world and has become one in film – so it’s never a bad bet to bring a new version to the screen returns-wise. It’s also out of copyright (since Dickens died in 1870) meaning that the original works can be exploited by anybody from anywhere whatsoever.


It’s Dickens

We’re not talking small fry here. Dickens was a massive writer – Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield. Perhaps, just perhaps, if he was not such a huge and popular phenomenon at the time then this story may have not been a mainstay for the last 150 years, no matter how good it is.

Happy Ending

Would A Christmas Carol still be popular today if Scrooge decided to carry on with his ways and Tiny Tim died as a result….? Funnily enough audiences, for the most part, want to go and see stories that make them feel good or teach them something. If you study IMDB’s Highest Grossers you’ll see that the majority have happy, or at least bittersweet, endings.


OK, that’s it! We’d like to wish you an extremely happy Christmas and we look forward to working with you afterwards! Be good to each other!

If for some, strange living-in-a-parallel-universe reason, you have never seen any version of A Christmas Carol then go forth and check it out! It’s inspired such other classics as It’s a Wonderful Life,  Groundhog Day and Back to the Future!


Here are our favourite versions of the story:

The Muppet Christmas Carol


A Christmas Carol

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week (and Christmas)!
The Film Doctor Team
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