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Christmas TV movies are down this year (and it's not for the reason you think)

There's still a lot of Christmas spirit coming our way.

The Naughty Nine - Danny Glover
Image credit: Disney Channel

We haven't even passed Halloween night yet, but TV networks and streamers have already unleashed the holiday spirit with a slate of Christmas movies that is noticeably smaller than in previous years. Why is this happening? The answer isn't as obvious as you'd expect.

Variety has the full picture of what the ridiculously packed schedule looks like. The schedule began October 14, and it seems we'll be getting new Christmas stories up until December 17 and into the holidays. The slate includes movies from Hallmark, Lifetime, Great American Family, Disney+, and Netflix, among others. The list of most anticipated Christmas movies includes Prime Video's Candy Cane Lane, starring Eddie Murphy, Jillian Bell, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Nick Offerman; Disney Channel's The Naughty Nine, starring Danny Glover, Winslow Fegley, Camila Rodriguez, and Imogen Cohen; and A Christmas Frequency, starring Denise Richards, James Hyde, Ansley Gordon, and Jonathan Stoddard. But with so many movies (+100) debuting over roughly two months, there's something in there for almost every type of viewer who isn't the Grinch.

This year, however, there are fewer new holiday movies coming to the small screen, going from 140 releases last year to just over 100 in 2023. Surprisingly, this isn't a direct result of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA or finished WGA strikes, as most of these movies were either shot before the shutdown happened or made under a different type of contract. Lisa Hamilton Daly, EVP of programming at Hallmark Media, elaborated on the process: "Christmas is a year-round business at Hallmark, so we were able to mitigate early in the year understanding that the strikes were unfortunately imminent."

Indeed, Hallmark is debuting 40 new movies, same as last year, and networks like Great American Family (20 movies) even upped their numbers. On the other hand, Lifetime went from 2022's 26 new release to 12 movies this year. These are just a handful of examples, but there's an overall downward trend caused by the financial uncertainty of most entertainment industries this year, with streaming and TV numbers not hitting the highs of the pandemic years anymore. Of course, planning ahead of the months-long strikes has been another big factor, but it appears they haven't impacted these productions as hard as we would have believed at first.

'Tis the season to watch and read holiday stories. Here's our recommendations for timely favorites ranging from Christmas horror, Christmas action, Christmas comedy, and Christmas anime, Christmas sci-fi, and even five weird Christmas specials from comics. And if that's not enough, wait until you learn about Netflix's Christmas movies cinematic universe.