By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 29, 2017 at 6:31 PM

The Christmas season means many things: presents, Christmas trees, carols, jokes about fruitcake, a family member maybe knocking back a bit too much of the eggnog on Christmas Eve night. But it also means your beloved Christmas movie classics.

How many times, though, do you get the chance to see these holiday hits on the actual big screen where they were born, sharing the seasonal spirit with a crowd of friends and strangers laughing, crying and cheering together in unison? Well, Merry Christmas, Milwaukee, because several local theaters are bringing your favorite Christmas movies to the big screen this season – from old standards to new favorites and some unexpected but equally inspired selections. 

So forget chestnuts roasting on an open fire and grab some buttery popcorn freshly popped by a theater employee named Devin. Here's where to find your favorite festive films this upcoming holiday month.

Marcus Theatres

The largest theater company in the area is getting into the Christmas spirit by featuring two weeks of holiday movie screenings – with tickets just for $5. And then "The Last Jedi" comes out, banishing anything not called "Star Wars" out of theaters. 

The festive films include:

  • "Elf": Dec. 1-7
  • "It's a Wonderful Life": Dec. 1-7
  • "The Polar Express": Dec. 1-7
  • "White Christmas": Dec. 8-14
  • "A Christmas Story": Dec. 8-14
  • "Christmas Vacation": Dec. 8-14

Participating theaters include the BistroPlex Southridge, Hillside, Majestic, Menomonee Falls, North Shore, Ridge and South Shore cinemas. Times differ from theater to theater, so check Marcus Theatres' website to find showings. 

In addition to those films, several Marcus Theatres locations will also play host to a special Rule Breakers screening of the dark Christmas classic "Gremlins," starting with midnight screenings on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the BistroPlex Southridge, Majestic, Menomonee Falls, North Shore, Ridge and South Shore cinemas – complete with a behind-the-scenes conversation with Joe Dante streamed in. Hopefully no one gets any concessions though ...

In case you can't stay awake for that showing, however, the selected theaters will have more sensible, less rule-breaking screenings on Monday, Dec. 11 and Wednesday, Dec. 13 as well. 

Landmark Theaters

Neither the Oriental nor the Downer have any special Christmas programming planned for the big screen. But if we're talking big screen Christmas gifts that have nothing to do with Christmas, the Oriental is bringing a midnight screening of the legendarily awful "The Room" to town on Saturday, Dec. 16 – just in time for the release of James Franco's "The Disaster Artist." Good thinking!


Beginning Friday, Dec. 1, the iPic in Bayshore Mall will show "The Best Man Holiday," the 2013 Christmas dramedy sequel to 1999's "The Best Man," starring Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Regina Hall, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan and more. In addition, on Dec. 2-3, the iPic will also host an afternoon screening of "It's a Wonderful Life," at 12:15 p.m. both days. The iPic may have more holiday treats planned for the upcoming month, but listings are currently only available through Dec. 6. For updates, however, visit the iPic's website

Times, Rosebud and Avalon

If you're looking for off-kilter holiday hits on the big screen, look no further than the Neighborhood Theater Group, which recently unwrapped its now expectedly unexpected lineup of Christmas cinematic presents for Milwaukee audiences.

The Avalon serves as the main hub for cinematic Christmas cheer, as the Bay View theater will host holidays classics old, new and oddball throughout the entire season – with tickets only costing $5. This year's lineup includes:

  • "Die Hard": Thursday, Nov. 30 and Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 p.m.
  • "Trading Places": Thursday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 8, at 10 p.m.
  • "Jingle All the Way": Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
  • "It's a Wonderful Life": Dec. 22-24, at 10:30 a.m.

And don't let ANYBODY tell you "Die Hard" isn't a Christmas movie.

In addition to those screenings, the Avalon will also host several special holiday screenings, complete with bonus packages for extra nice (not naughty) time at the theater. On Friday, Dec. 8, at 10:30 a.m., the theater will show the 1947 Cary Grant and Loretta Young classic, "The Bishop's Wife," complete with a special brunch package including a breakfast sandwich, mimosa and pastries along with your movie ticket. The full package costs $15, while general admission for the film is still just $5. 

The Avalon will host a similar special screening just in time for New Year's Day with two screenings of the beloved British holiday hit "Love Actually" at 10 p.m. on Dec. 28-29. Tickets are again $5, but moviegoers are also invited to indulge in the special $12 love package, which includes a flute of Champagne and house-made parmesan chive crisps. You're celebrating the end of the year, so you might as well go all out. You made it to the end of 2017; you've earned it!

In addition to the events at the Avalon, the Times Cinema in Tosa will host some Christmas screenings of its own, including Irving Berlin's "Holiday Inn" at 11 a.m. on Dec. 15-16 and "White Christmas" at 11 a.m. on Dec. 22-24. For those more on the naughty than nice list, however, the Times will also screen the holiday horror classic "Black Christmas" (fun fact: directed by the same guy as "A Christmas Story"!) on Friday, Dec. 21 at 9 p.m., as a part of its Friday Night Freak Show with WMSE 91.7. Tickets for all screenings at the Times are also $5. 

And if that's not enough holiday cheer on the local cinema screens, the Rosebud will also show "It's a Wonderful Life" on Dec. 22-24, at 11 a.m. So you really have no excuse to not see "It's a Wonderful Life" on the big screen this Christmas season. 

UWM Union Cinema

The UWM Union Cinema may close up well before Christmas Eve, but it still has a holiday movie on its docket: Gillian Armstrong's 1994 star-studded adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women." It may not be as essentially or traditionally Christmas as some of the movies on this list, but it definitely qualifies as a warm, family-focused holiday movie to watch when the snow's coming down (hopefully). The movie will screen Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. as well as Saturday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. General admission is $5, while tickets for UWM students, Union Cinema members and children under 12 are free. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.