Disney sets Anna Kendrick to star in Nicole as the daughter of Santa Claus, with the film set to hit theaters in November 2019 – just in time for the holiday season. In December, the only thing more reliable than the countlessly repeating sight of Ralphie in pink bunny pajamas is the addition of more holiday-themed films from Hollywood. A staple of cable networks like Lifetime and Hallmark Channel, original and classic titles have even made their way to Netflix as early as October.
Unsurprisingly, Santa is often the center of these stories, expanding and reworking the myth of Saint Nicholas in variations as jolly as Miracle on 34th Street or as bah-humbug as Rare Exports. Disney, whose hugely successful 1994 film The Santa Clause spawned two sequels, is digging into Santa’s endless bag of goodies once again, this time with a little more female empowerment.
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In addition to today’s announcement of Disney’s much anticipated live-action film release dates for Aladdin and Christopher Robin, the studio has slated their once-secret Christmas project Nicole to arrive on November 8, 2019. In the film, previously noted as “Untitled Disney Fairy Tale,” Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Trolls) stars as Santa Claus’ daughter who must “take over the family business after he retires.” The film is set to co-star Bill Hader (Trainwreck, Inside Out) as the brother of Kendrick’s character, and is written and directed by Miss Congeniality screenwriter Marc Lawrence.
This new movie’s variation on the “saving Santa” story is in no way related to Disney’s Santa Clause trilogy. It is one of two Santa-themed Disney live-action comedies planned to go into production, the other being Kevin Hart’s taking of the reindeer reins in Dashing Through the Snow.
While the focus shifting to Santa’s daughter is a welcome direction in holiday spirit, it’s certainly nothing new. Hallmark Channel’s Annie Claus is Coming to Town and the CBS miniseries Mrs. Santa Claus brought strong female characters to the forefront of Christmas years ago on television. The “saving Santa” storyline, aided sometimes by Claus kin or sometimes by strangers, is a staple of holiday movies (Mr. St. Nick, Santa Jr., Arthur Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Fred Claus, Santa Claus: The Movie, The Night They Saved Christmas, and so on).
But Disney knows a thing or two about modern-day, live-action fairy tales, having had major success in the past year with their Beauty and the Beast remake. Kendrick’s past experience with the studio includes the big-budget, live-action adaptation of Broadway’s Into the Woods. There is no indication yet if Nicole will feature the musical vocal talents of Kendrick.
For more traditional Christmas moviegoers, Disney will release the live-action Lasse Hallström (A Dog’s Purpose) film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms one year before Nicole. The update on the classic table by E.T.A. Hoffmann stars Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. This will be the first major Christmas-themed holiday release from Walt Disney Pictures since 2009’s motion-capture animated A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. That film grossed over $315 million worldwide at the box-office, while adjusted for inflation, the Santa Clause trilogy has helped Disney cash in over $634 million worldwide.
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