Warner Bros. Making Merry with A Christmas Story

Cynthia Littleton at Variety breaks down the astonishing popularity of A Christmas Story, the 1983 movie made by the late Bob Clark.

First off, we have to applaud San Diego entrepreneur Brian Jones. His purchase in 2004 (via eBay!) of the Cleveland home where the beloved movie was shot and subsequent renovation of the duplex into a memorabilia and annual convention shrine is a stroke of opportunistic genius.

But what really caught our eye is the fact that every holiday season, despite Wonderful Life-like availability on TNT and TBS, Warner Home Video ships half a million DVDs of A Christmas Story to retailers. As Littleton so aptly puts it, the movie has turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving.

What is it about A Christmas Story that makes people travel as far away as from South Africa to spend a weekend at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel playing Ralphie trivia and hobnobbing with actors who had small parts? Jones credits the heart, humor and timelessness of the yarn spun by Jean Shepherd and translated onscreen by Clark.

Sadly, Clark was unable to visit the transformed Cleveland house before being killed by a drunk driver on the PCH in 2007. Meanwhile, the studio that originally released the film, MGM/UA, is currently crawling out of bankruptcy.