How does Home Alone measure up as one of the rare Christmas franchises?
Released in 1990, Home Alone was an instant success at the box office, generating approximately $285 million in its first six months in the USA. It managed to smash its $18 million budget, even picking up two Oscar nominations for the soundtrack in the process. Following suit two year later, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York also excelled in cinema sales, almost doubling the original’s domestic opening weekend sales, going on to reach around $173 million domestically in its first six months. Despite not picking up any Oscar nominations this time round, the franchise was certainly looking bright but unfortunately, the third instalment took a completely different turn; with almost double the budget of the first film it failed to make the $31 million investment back, even over its first six months and aptly went on to pick up a Razzie nomination for the Worst Remake or Sequel in the process.
In terms of cinematic style and pace, the first two films of the series are a much more attractive proposition, while the third sticks out like a loud, obnoxious and not-fun-to-look-at sore thumb. Despite being a worthwhile watch, Home Alone and Home Alone 2 are much more innocent than the third film, with less booby traps, domestic objects used for violence and on the whole, injuries sustained. This is one of the main reasons that it stays so lighthearted throughout, before they introduce an underlying spy operation in the third film
The main reason for this innocence is largely down to child star, Macaulay Culkin, who brings a real charm to the first two movies with more comedic moments, like dancing in the mirror, using TV and films to his advantage and talking to himself to display emotions. These great aspects of the two earlier films are all but gone from Home Alone 3. Alex is seen talking to himself on just 2 occasions, compared to 6 and 5 in the previous two films and with more of these solo interactions the main character could perhaps have become more likeable. These moments raise the mood of the films and make them a lot easier to watch than the often forced action scenes of the last instalment of the trilogy.
It’s perhaps no surprise the film with the least elements of theft is the film with the European soldiers trying to retrieve a nuclear weapon chip, rather than two the two burglars who are happy to steal anything they can get their hands on. Throughout the franchise we see a total of 8 instances of theft, with Home Alone championing this with 5. The thieves in the first film are distinctly trying to burgle his house, whereas the second and third film are more about the thieves trying to get revenge on the boy due to their interference with the robbery.
As the franchise progresses we also see the number of times adults are outsmarted by children increase, with 6, 12 and 15 respectively. This can be directly compared to the increase in booby traps used, as well as the increase in villains defeated by the lead child. However the increase in booby traps during adds a much more violent element to the franchise and without the necessary slapstick and silly sounds from the previous two movies, the increased booby trap usage in the third film adds an inappropriately serious twist to a light-hearted franchise.
A lot of the statistics and comparisons in this analysis seem to take the shape of Home Alone and Home Alone 2 vs. Home Alone 3. While this is not intentional, the drop in quality and change in direction cannot be overlooked. For more opinion on these, please read our reviews by clicking on the posters at the top of this page. The first two films of the franchise are stand out Christmas films and offer something new, while the third film all but commits franchise suicide with a new and completely uninteresting direction, that resulted in two TV films and the lowest ratings of the franchise.
All box office figures listed above are courtesy of Box Office Mojo and have been adjusted for inflation by 2013.