Set during the holidays, filled with cheesy nostalgia, permeated with joy — we’re talking about Christmas movies. Everyone has a favorite, and many are passionate about theirs. We wanted to know the most popular Christmas movie in every state, so we cracked open that nut to find out!
We ran the top 25 films from IMDb’s Top 100 Christmas movies of all-time list through every state on Google Trends, and the results suggest this nation might agree on something.
Comic strip character Charlie Brown once said, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about”? Let’s say that if Christmas in the U.S. was about Christmas movies, it’s ultimately about “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The film is a state favorite for nearly 80% of the nation!
Is your state in the “Christmas Vacation” universe, or can your state claim to love “Die Hard” above all other films? Who watches “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Day, and who prefers “Edward Scissorhands”? Hey kids, look! A map!
The 12 States of Dissidence
Only twelve places search the most for a Christmas movie other than “Christmas Vacation.” Most of these states have low populations; in fact, the five least-populous states in the U.S. all prefer something different than “Christmas Vacation.”
- Arkansas: “Die Hard” (1988)
- Georgia: “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)
- Puerto Rico: “Gremlins” (1984)
- Vermont: “Gremlins” (1984)
- Hawaii: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
- Alaska: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
- Idaho: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
- Wyoming: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
- North Dakota: “Love Actually” (2003)
- District of Columbia: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
- South Dakota: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
- Delaware: “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940)
Wishlisted used the current top 25 Christmas movies on IMDb’s Top 100 Christmas movies of all-time list (pulled on 10/19/22) to analyze search popularity data in Google Trends. Wishlisted compared search interest over time for all 25 movies in every state individually between 11/24/21-1/2/22. The film in each state with the highest average interest over time won.
Although it was not made a part of this project, due to the extraordinary popularity of “Christmas Vacation” in 2021, Wishlisted reran the study from 11/24/20-1/2/21, and the results yielded even more than 40 states with “Christmas Vacation” as the most popular. In other words, 2021 was not likely a fluke year for “Christmas Vacation.”
Google Trends calculates popularity interest over time using a scale of 0 to 100. A movie with the highest average interest over time, during the study’s time range, was proportionally searched more than all other films in a state. A movie wins because the state proportionally searched for it the most; it is not based on absolute search volume.
Google Trends bases its data on a random sample of searches representative of all Google searches. It does not use every search made during a specified query timeframe — providing the whole data set would be too large to process. Therefore, it is possible to obtain varying results for the same query.
Here, you can download CSV spreadsheets containing the analysis behind this work. If you are interested in the entire raw Google Trends dataset Wishlisted collected for this work, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected] Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find it helpful — Wishlisted asks that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
The Most Popular Christmas Movies in the US
Out of 25 movies, only eight were state favorites: “Die Hard,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Gremlins,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Love Actually,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “The Shop Around the Corner.”
“Christmas Vacation” is the most popular Christmas movie in the U.S., with 40 states Googling the film the most.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the country’s second-favorite holiday movie, with Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Wyoming claiming it as their #1 and landing top five for 38 other states.
Although it only won #1 in Arkansas, “Die Hard” is in the top five for 38 states, making it America’s third-favorite holiday movie.
Landing the top five for 23 and 15 states, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Home Alone,” respectively, are the fourth and fifth-favorite Christmas movies in the U.S.
The eight state-favorite movies were more commonly released in the 80s, with only one film released in the last twenty years — “Love Actually” in 2003.
Fun Facts About Christmas Films in the US
Who is obsessed with “Christmas Vacation” the most? That’ll be Iowa!
The only four places that didn’t have “Christmas Vacation” in their top five are Georgia, North and South Dakota and the U.S. Territory, Puerto Rico.
People across the nation search for Christmas Movies the most on Christmas Day.
Only two of the 25 movies on our list didn’t place in the top five anywhere — “Trading Places” (1983) and “Silent Night” (2002).
IMDb classifies movies into one to three genres; comedy, drama and fantasy are the most frequent of the eight state-favorite Christmas films, with seven films belonging to at least one of those genres.
The average movie length for the eight U.S. film favorites is 110 minutes, 20 below the highest-grossing film averages — In this nation, we appear to like our Christmas movies short and sweet.