Do you think Die Hard is a Christmas movie? That might depend on how old you are

David MontgomerySenior data journalist
December 15, 2023, 2:49 AM GMT+0

Americans generally are OK with considering The Nightmare Before Christmas as a Christmas movie — the word's right there in the title, for all that some insist the movie has more to do with Halloween. But many Americans — especially older ones — draw the line at inducting the Dec. 24-set action movie Die Hard into the holiday canon.

Those are some of the findings of a recent YouGov poll asking Americans whether the fuzzily defined category of Christmas movie includes 10 borderline films. 79% of U.S. adults who've seen The Nightmare Before Christmas say that the 1993 Tim Burton-written film should be considered a Christmas movie, while only 12% say it shouldn't be. But being partially set at Christmastime doesn't help another Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands — only 20% of Americans who've seen that film say it's a Christmas movie.

The Christmas-set romantic comedies Love Actually and Just Friends both are considered by more Americans to be Christmas movies than not: 50% of those who've seen Love Actually say it is a Christmas film while 27% disagree; for Just Friends, 43% say it is a Christmas film and 29% disagree. (Viewers were anyone who said they'd seen the film in response to a question that instructed, "If the movie is part of a franchise or has remakes, please say yes if you have seen any version of it," which could affect results for some films with sequels, such as Die Hard.)

The other seven films with disputed levels of Christmas ties that YouGov asked about all are seen by fewer Americans as Christmas movies than not. Topping that list is Die Hard: 39% say it's a Christmas movie while 50% disagree.

One factor associated with whether Americans consider a movie to be a Christmas movie is their age. For example, men and women who've seen Die Hard are equally likely to say it is a Christmas movie. But 56% of adults under 30 who've seen Die Hard say it's a Christmas movie, compared to just 20% of Die Hard-watchers who are 65 and older. (British viewers of the film show similar differences by age on whether to classify it as a Christmas movie.)

That trend holds true for all 10 questionably Christmas-y movies that YouGov asked about. For every single one, adults under 30 were more likely to say they were Christmas movies than were adults 65 and older.

How do Americans define a Christmas movie anyway?

Most Americans agree that Christmas movies need to take place during the holiday seasons, have a heartwarming tone, and have Christmas music on the soundtrack.

Other elements sometimes associated with Christmas movies, such as involving a fireplace, or either a small town or a big city, are seen as necessary by much smaller shares of Americans.

There is an age divide here, too.

Americans 65 or older are more likely than adults under 30 to say Christmas movies have to include a Christmas-time setting, a heartwarming tone, a moral message, a family gathering, or elements of faith or religion.

Adults under 30, in contrast, are more likely than those 65 and older to say Christmas movies need to involve gift-giving or receiving, a Christmas meal, snow, Santa Claus, a fireplace, elements of magic, or small towns or big cities.

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on November 15 - 19, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Getty