A Christmas Carol (2009 film)

A Christmas Carol (2009 film)
A Christmas Carol

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Jack Rapke
Steve Starkey
Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis
Based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Starring Jim Carrey
Gary Oldman
Cary Elwes
Sammi Hanratty
Colin Firth
Bob Hoskins
Robin Wright Penn
Ryan Ochoa
Molly C. Quinn
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Robert Presley
Editing by Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Studio ImageMovers Digital
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) November 3, 2009 (2009-11-03) (London)
November 6, 2009 (2009-11-06) (United States)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175[1]–200[2] million
Box office $325,286,646[3]

A Christmas Carol (named on-screen and in promotional material as Disney's A Christmas Carol) is a 2009 film written and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is an adaptation of the Charles Dickens story of the same name and stars Jim Carrey in a multitude of roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge as a young, middle-aged, and old man, and the three ghosts who haunt Scrooge.[4]

The 3-D film was produced through the process of performance capture, a technique Zemeckis previously used in his films The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).[4]

A Christmas Carol began filming in February 2008, and was released on November 3, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures.[5] It received its world premiere in London, coinciding with the switching on of the annual Oxford Street and Regent Street Christmas lights, which in 2009 had a Dickens theme.[6][7]

The film was released in Disney Digital 3-D and was the first Disney movie in IMAX 3-D. It is also Disney's third film retelling of A Christmas Carol following 1983's Mickey's Christmas Carol and 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol. The film also marks Jim Carrey's first role in a Walt Disney Pictures film (the first Disney film that Carrey had a role in was Simon Birch in 1998 released under the company's Hollywood Pictures banner).



Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), a bitter and miserly old moneylender at a counting house in 1843 London holds everything that embodies the joys and spirit of Christmas in contempt, refusing to visit his cheerful nephew Fred (Colin Firth) at his Christmas dinner party with his family, and forcing his underpaid employee Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) to beg to take the day off for his own family. That night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Oldman) who had died seven years prior on Christmas Eve and is now forced to spend his afterlife carrying heavy chains that were forged from his own greedy ways. Marley warns Scrooge that he will suffer an even worse fate if he does not repent and foretells that he will be haunted by three spirits that will help guide him.

The first spirit is the Ghost of Christmas Past (Carrey), which shows Scrooge visions of his own past that take place on or around the Christmas season, reminding Scrooge of how he ended up the avaricious man he is now. Scrooge had spent much of his childhood neglected by his father over the holidays at boarding school until he was finally brought home by his loving sister Fan (Robin Wright Penn), who died prematurely after giving birth to his nephew, Fred. Scrooge later began a successful career in business and money lending, and became engaged to a woman named Belle (Penn), though she later called off the engagement when he began to grow obsessed with accumulating his own wealth. Unable to bear having to witness these events again, Scrooge extinguishes the spirit with its candle snuffer cap.

The second spirit is the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carrey), which shows Scrooge the happiness of his fellow men on Christmas Day. Among them are his nephew, Fred, who playfully makes jokes with his family at Scrooge's expense, and Bob Cratchit and his family, who are just barely able to make do with what little pay Scrooge gives Cratchit. Scrooge is touched by the Cratchits' sickly young son Tiny Tim (played by Oldman, voiced by Ryan Ochoa) and his commitment to the spirit of Christmas, and is dismayed to learn from the spirit that Tim may not have much longer to live. Before dying, the spirit warns Scrooge about the evils of "Ignorance" and "Want," which manifest themselves before Scrooge as two wretched children who grow into violent, insane individuals.

The third and final spirit is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Carrey), which toys with Scrooge by chasing him through the streets of London on a carriage before showing him the final consequences of his greed. Scrooge sees in this future that he has died: Fred and his wife are elated to inherit Scrooge's wealth, Scrooge's maid is shown to have robbed him, and the men who attended his funeral had only gone for a free lunch. Tiny Tim is also shown to have died, leaving Bob Cratchit and his family to mourn him on Christmas. Horrified, Scrooge asks the spirit whether the images he has seen are sure to happen or can be changed. To little response, the spirit forces Scrooge to fall into his empty coffin sitting above the fires of Hell.

Scrooge suddenly awakens on Christmas Day to find that all three spirits have visited him in a dream over the course of one night. The story concludes with Scrooge living the rest of his life as a second father to Tiny Tim, and as a changed man who embodies the spirit of Christmas.


  • Jim Carrey as:
    • Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted, tight fisted, greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which engender happiness.
    • Ghost of Christmas Past, the first of the three spirits that haunt Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. He is depicted as a young, androgynous human with a waxy, candle-like body and a flickering flame for a head, who speaks in a dreamy, slow voice with an Irish accent, and sways about.
    • Ghost of Christmas Present, the second of the three spirits. He is depicted as a large, jolly man with red hair, a full beard, and a green ermine robe who ages rapidly while he is with Scrooge. He has a tendency to laugh heartily, even as he dies, and carries the sins of Ignorance and Want upon his person, in the forms of horrifying, savage children.
    • Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the third of the three spirits. It is depicted as a large shadow in the shape of the Grim Reaper cast across the ground or a wall, and occasionally emerges into three dimensions to point at something or to chase Scrooge in a large, shadow-like horse carriage.
  • Robin Wright Penn as:
    • Belle, Scrooge's neglected fiancée.
    • Fan Scrooge, Scrooge's late sister, who died prematurely after giving birth to Scrooge's nephew, Fred.
  • Gary Oldman as:
    • Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's abused, underpaid clerk.
    • Jacob Marley, Scrooge's former business partner.
    • Tiny Tim, Cratchit's youngest son. His voice is provided by Ryan Ochoa.
  • Colin Firth as Fred, Scrooge's optimistic nephew and only living relative.
  • Cary Elwes as:
    • Dick Wilkins, Scrooge's old roommate.
    • Mad Fiddler
    • Businessman #1
    • Portly Gentleman #1, a man who requests from Scrooge a donation to those less fortunate.
    • Destitute Man #2
  • Bob Hoskins as:
    • Mr. Fezziwig, the proprietor of a warehouse business for whom Scrooge worked as an apprentice.
    • Old Joe, a fence who buys the belongings of the deceased Scrooge from Scrooge's old maid.
  • Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Dilber.
  • Molly C. Quinn as Belinda Cratchit, Bob Cratchit's wife.
  • Ron Bottitta as:
    • Tattered Caroler
    • Well-Dressed Caroler


Zemeckis has stated previously that A Christmas Carol is one of his favorite stories dealing with time travel.[8] Carrey has described the film as "a classical version of A Christmas Carol [...] There are a lot of vocal things, a lot of physical things, I have to do. Not to mention doing the accents properly, the English, Irish accents [...] I want it to fly in the UK. I want it to be good and I want them to go, 'Yeah, that's for real.' We were very true to the book. It's beautiful. It's an incredible film."[9]


Box office

The film opened at number one in 3,683 theaters, grossing $30,051,075 its opening weekend, with an average of $8,159 per theater.[2] The film has come to gross an estimated $137,481,366 in the United States and Canada and $181,000,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $318,481,366.[3] In the UK, A Christmas Carol topped the box office on two separate occasions; the first was when it opened, the second was 5 weeks later when it leapfrogged box office chart toppers 2012, The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Paranormal Activity despite family competition from Nativity!, another Christmas-themed movie.

Critical reaction

The film received mixed to positive reviews from US film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 52% of 181 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.9 out of 10. The site's consensus is that "Robert Zemeckis' 3-D animated take on the Dickens classic tries hard, but its dazzling special effects distract from an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman."[10] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 50%, based on a sample of 32 reviews.[11] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 55 based on 32 reviews.[12]

In his review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the movie four stars, calling it "an exhilarating visual experience".[13] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A, applauding the film as "a marvelous and touching yuletide toy of a movie".[14] Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film 3/5 stars, but claimed the film "is well-crafted but artless, detailed but lacking soul."[15] Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com gave the film a mixed review claiming the movie "is a triumph of something — but it's certainly not the Christmas spirit."[16] Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote in his review that the film's "tone is joyless, despite an extended passage of bizarre laughter, several dazzling flights of digital fancy, a succession of striking images and Jim Carrey's voicing of Scrooge plus half a dozen other roles."[17]

In the UK, most reviewers criticised the technology, Daily Telegraph reviewer Tim Robey wrote "How much is gained by the half-real visual style for this story is open to question – the early scenes are laborious and never quite alive, and the explosion of jollity at the end lacks the virtue of being funny".[18] Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian also criticised the technology "The hi-tech sheen is impressive, but in an unexciting way. I wanted to see real human faces convey real human emotions.".[19] Time Out London praised the film for sticking to Dickens' original dialogue but also questioned the technology by saying "To an extent, this ‘Christmas Carol’ is a case of style – and stylisation – overwhelming substance."[20]

Home video

Disney released the film on November 16, 2010 in a single-disc DVD, two disc 2D Blu-ray/DVD combo and in a four-disc combo pack that includes a Blu-ray 3D, a Blu-ray 2D, a DVD and a Digital Copy. This marks the first time that a movie is available in Blu-ray 3D the same day as a standard Blu-ray 2D, as well as Disney's first in the Blu-ray 3D market. The DVD contains deleted scenes and two features called "On Set with Sammi" and "Capturing a Christmas Carol". The Blu-ray 2D also has a "Digital Advent Calendar" and the feaurette "Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience. The Blu-ray 3D has an exclusive 3D game called "Mr. Scrooge's Wild Ride".

The film is rated PG in Australia, however the rating was later changed to M in New Zealand.

See also


  1. ^ Barnes, Brooks (2009-10-26). "Disney Hopes Christmas Carol Lives Up to Its Blockbuster Marketing". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/business/media/26carol.html. Retrieved October 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "A Christmas Carol (2009)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=christmascarol09.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  3. ^ a b "Disney's A Christmas Carol- Box Office Data". The Numbers. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2009/CAROL.php. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  4. ^ a b Fleming, Michael. "Jim Carrey set for 'Christmas Carol': Zemeckis directing Dickens adaptation", Variety, 2007-07-06. Retrieved on 2007-09-11.
  5. ^ McClintock, Pamela (2008-02-07). "Studios rush to fill '09 schedule". Variety. http://www.variety.com/VR1117980473.html?query=christmas+carol+carrey. 
  6. ^ "Dickens theme for festive lights". BBC News. 2009-09-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8253269.stm. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  7. ^ Hall, James (2009-09-12). "Disney's A Christmas Carol will be theme for London's Christmas lights". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/6179865/Disneys-A-Christmas-Carol-will-be-theme-for-Londons-Christmas-lights.html. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  8. ^ Making the Trilogy: Part 1 featurette on the Back to the Future Trilogy DVD box set.
  9. ^ "In the Future: Jim Carrey", ComingSoon.net, 2008-03-07. Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  10. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10008502-christmas_carol/. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  11. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol: Top Critics". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10008502-christmas_carol/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  12. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol: Reviews (2009)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/christmascarol. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  13. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. 2009-11-05. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091104/REVIEWS/911059995. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  14. ^ "Disney's A Christmas Carol Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20317532,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  15. ^ Neumaier, Joe (2009-11-05). "Disney's A Christmas Carol in Disney Digital 3D: Blah, humbug! 'A Christmas Carol's 3-D spin on Dickens well done in parts but lacks spirit". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/2009/11/06/2009-11-06_blah_humbug_a_christmas_carols_3d_spin_on_dickens_well_done_in_parts_but_lacks_s.html. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Disney's "A Christmas Carol": Bah, humbug!". Salon.com. 2009-11-05. http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/review/2009/11/05/christmas_carol/index.html. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  17. ^ Morgenstern, Joe. "'A Christmas Carol': Carrey, Disney Play Scrooge". Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/film_review.html. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  18. ^ Robey, Tim (2009-11-05). "A Christmas Carol, review". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/6509001/A-Christmas-Carol-review.html. 
  19. ^ Peter Bradshaw (2009-11-06). "Film review: A Christmas Carol | Film". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/05/a-chrismas-carol-review. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  20. ^ "A Christmas Carol Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/87402/a-christmas-carol.html. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 

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