How ‘Home Alone’ Became the Most Successful Christmas Movie of All Time

It’s been 29 years since Home Alone was released. Despite the film centering around the Christmas season, that hasn’t stopped the film from being one of the most beloved movies of all time. 

Maccauly Culkin
Macaulay Culkin | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The film chronicles the youngest child of the McCallister family, Kevin (Maccauly Caulkin) as he defends himself against ill-prepared neighborhood robbers when he’s accidentally left home alone in the days leading up to Christmas. His family desperately tries to get back from their holiday vacation in Paris to ensure Kevin is safe. 

Thanks in part to the adorableness of Caulkin, Home Alone was a massive success and continues to reign as a fan favorite almost 30 years later. Up until last year’s release of The Grinch, the film was the highest-grossing Christmas movie of all time and for good reason.

‘Home Alone’ is released in 1990 and became a box office smash

Home Alone was released to audiences across America on November 16, 1990. The studio allowed a special release in the city of Chicago a week earlier as the setting of the film was in the Windy City. With an $18 million budget, Home Alone almost broke even in its opening weekend, making $17 million over a three day period. 

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Home Alone was so popular that it remained in theaters post the Christmas season. It was number one at the box office for 12 consecutive weeks, beginning on the date of its release. 

The movie grossed over $285 million in the United States and Canada and another $190 million worldwide, totaling a little over $476 million. By the time Home Alone was taken out of theaters, it was the third-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide behind Star Wars and E.T. 

How did critics and audiences feel about ‘Home Alone?’

Home Alone received mixed but mostly positive reviews from critics. The family-friendly movie was overall well-liked but its actors and elements of comedy throughout the film received the most praise. 

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Jeanne Cooper of The Washington Post praised the film for its comedic approach. Another Washington Post film critic, Hal Hinson, thought highly of Chris Columbus’s directing and Culkin’s acting, writing, “Chris Columbus’s junky, rambunctiously funny “Home Alone” is every kid’s anarchical wish come true.”

Audiences loved Home Alone. On a viewers’ poll on CinemaScore gives the film a grade “A” out of an A-F scale. The movie is considered the most favored Christmas film of all time. 

‘Home Alone’s’ success inspires a sequel 

The film was followed by a 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Much of the original cast reprised their roles and is the only other film in the Home Alone franchise to have all actors from the first film. 

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Like the original, the youngest McCallister is left behind, but this time not at home. Taking place one year after the turn of events in the first movie, the family opts to spend Christmas in Florida against Kevin’s wishes. While running late to the airport, the family is split up and Kevin accidentally boards the wrong flight, ending up in New York City. He initially enjoys himself until he runs into the burglars from the year before and must once again out-run and out-prank his former enemies 

Lost in New York made over $170 million in the U.S. and $359 worldwide. Critics didn’t like the film as much as the original but the follow-up earned another grade “A” from CinemaScore out of an A-F scale amongst viewers.

Special screenings of Home Alone took place around the country at limited theaters in celebration of the 25th year since its release. Let’s see what happens on the film’s 30th anniversary next year!