How many cheesy holiday movies did you watch this year? Be honest - five? Ten? You can send your gratitude to Netflix, Lifetime and Hallmark because they released 64 original holiday movies combined in 2018, a 120% increase from last year. It’s no coincidence that everywhere you turned there was another perfectly formulated warm, fuzzy film available at your fingertips.
Kudos to you if you accomplished the herculean feat of watching all 64 movies, and condolences to your S.O./roomie for having to put up with that.
But that’s actually just the tip of the iceberg - the love for cheesy movies doesn’t stop with the holidays. Has anyone seen the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Kissing Booth? They were two of the most re-watched movies on Netflix this year (confession - I contributed to that stat). Furthermore, Vulture published an interview with Ted Sarandos where he commented that The Kissing Booth was “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world”. Dang!
Why is this trend of feel-good, wholesome movies continuing to grow, might you ask? We all know movies are a form of escape and that 2018 was a tumultuous year to say the least. This was certainly a part of it, but what other reasons could there be? These movies have become the antidote to the rise of intensity in TV shows and movies. All of these movies were G or PG rated, making them the counterbalance to the increasingly mature content we see on our screens.
Multiple studies cite that violence in PG13 movies is on the rise, along with parents becoming progressively desensitized to violence and sex, allowing their kids to watch more mature content than ever before. When you think of shows like GoT, Westworld and 13 Reasons Why, it’s only obvious that there’s a new acceptable norm of intensity playing out on TV as well. Additionally, 2017 was dubbed “the biggest year in horror history” by the NYT, proving that intensity in entertainment across a range of genres is ever expanding. The effect of this is important - we are maxing ourselves out on the amount of intensity we can handle, and are continually looking for ways to get some warm, fuzzy feelings, even if it is incredibly predictable and full of cheese.
Look at this Google Trends comparison over the past five years, analyzing the search interest between Hallmark, Netflix and Lifetime “Christmas Movies” versus “Scary Movies”. What I found most fascinating is that the growth in Christmas movies interest drastically outpaced scary movies. Volume is higher for scary movies, but search only increased by 33% over the 2013-2018 span, whereas Hallmark Christmas movies increased 438%, Lifetime Christmas movies increased 133% and Netflix Christmas movies increased 220%. My prediction - there will be A LOT more feel-good holiday movies to come in 2019.
Now you might be thinking, “well of course the old ladies watching Hallmark want wholesome content, and so do the teenagers watching these YA films” (YA stands for Young Adult and is loosely defined as 14-24 year olds). Well I thought the same and was pleasantly surprised in what I found - Hallmark is not just for old ladies anymore, and YA films aren’t just for YA anymore! If you look at the social conversation around Hallmark Christmas movies between 2017 and 2018 you can see the beginnings of a shift to younger ages.
And when you look at who is talking about TATBILB and TKB, the biggest group engaging in social are the 25-34 year olds, instead of the YA audience that these films were made for .
Even looking outside of entertainment there are a ton of examples where people crave a warm, soothing blanket versus the exhausting highs and lows of life. Just look at the rise of meditation apps like Headspace, sites like Girls Night In promoting self care vs a night out, and the v chill music like lo-fi hip hop that is taking YouTube by storm (which I highly recommend), and think of what they have in common.
What does this all mean? PG ratings aren’t just for kids anymore. Violence, sex and thrills don’t always sell because increasingly, people are craving a safe space in entertainment where the aftertaste is that of pure goodness. Don’t be afraid to go straight up wholesome with your content, experiences or advertising.
Charles Deluvio Image