Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

PG | 75, 86 or 89-91 mins | Comedy | 11 November 1988

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HISTORY

       Although a 28 Feb 1988 LAT news brief reported the film’s principal photography was set to begin in late Mar 1988, a 10 Aug 1988 Var production chart stated filming began Apr 1988 in Tennessee and Orlando, FL. According to the 17 Jun 1988 HR, filming locations in Orlando included the Orlando Science Center and the studios of WOFL-TV. Production notes in AMPAS library files list filming “in and around the new Disney/MGM Studios facility.” Filming was completed on 10 May 1988 on a budget of approximately $6.5 million.
       A 25 Aug 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release stated that the film had a tentative release date of 4 Nov 1988, but the picture did not open until 11 Nov 1988, as stated in the NYT review on that date. A 15 Nov 1988 LAT brief reported the film placed second in the box-office totals for its opening weekend, grossing around $5.7 million. Reviews from the 12 Nov 1988 LAHExam and the Jan 1989 Box listed the film’s duration as ninety minutes. Reviews in the NYT and the 16 Nov 1988 Var listed the running time as eighty-nine minutes, the 14 Nov 1988 DV stated seventy-five minutes, and the 15 Nov 1988 HR reported eighty-six minutes.
       According to an 18 Nov 1988 LA Weekly article, the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Pictures had a screenplay relating to Santa Claus’s retirement. However, writer Thom Eberhardt was approached to rewrite the screenplay, and create a “story with ... More Less

       Although a 28 Feb 1988 LAT news brief reported the film’s principal photography was set to begin in late Mar 1988, a 10 Aug 1988 Var production chart stated filming began Apr 1988 in Tennessee and Orlando, FL. According to the 17 Jun 1988 HR, filming locations in Orlando included the Orlando Science Center and the studios of WOFL-TV. Production notes in AMPAS library files list filming “in and around the new Disney/MGM Studios facility.” Filming was completed on 10 May 1988 on a budget of approximately $6.5 million.
       A 25 Aug 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release stated that the film had a tentative release date of 4 Nov 1988, but the picture did not open until 11 Nov 1988, as stated in the NYT review on that date. A 15 Nov 1988 LAT brief reported the film placed second in the box-office totals for its opening weekend, grossing around $5.7 million. Reviews from the 12 Nov 1988 LAHExam and the Jan 1989 Box listed the film’s duration as ninety minutes. Reviews in the NYT and the 16 Nov 1988 Var listed the running time as eighty-nine minutes, the 14 Nov 1988 DV stated seventy-five minutes, and the 15 Nov 1988 HR reported eighty-six minutes.
       According to an 18 Nov 1988 LA Weekly article, the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Pictures had a screenplay relating to Santa Claus’s retirement. However, writer Thom Eberhardt was approached to rewrite the screenplay, and create a “story with Santa and adults.” LA Weekly reported Eberhardt saying he completed a new original script in three weeks, but Disney stated the screenplay would be changed “into an Ernest movie.” Eberhardt removed himself from the production and is not credited onscreen.
       The 17 Jun 1988 HR article stated that Carden & Cherry, a Nashville advertising agency, created the character “Ernest P. Worrell,” in 1980 for a commercial for Beech Bend Park, an amusement park located in Bowling Green, KY, based on a person the agency’s co-owner and the film’s director John Cherry had known. HR also reported that the character of “Ernest” recorded commercials for television and the radio for number of products, such as car dealerships and banks, and Cherry owned the character. The 25 Aug 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release listed Cherry as one of the film’s executive producers, although he is not credited onscreen as such. In a number of commercials, “Ernest” speaks directly to a camera, talking to his friend “Vern.” In the film, “Ernest” visits the house of his friend, “Vern.” However, the character of “Vern” does not appear onscreen.
       HR mentioned a television series entitled, Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! scheduled to premiere in the fall of 1988 on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) television network. Modern sources state the series premiered on 17 Sep 1988, lasted for one season, and won two Daytime Emmy awards in 1989.
      The following message precedes the end credits: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! KnoWhutImean?” End credits state: “COCA-COLA SANTA CLAUS illustrations are property of the COCA-COLA COMPANY and are used by permission; Certain copyrighted artwork used by permission of the CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY.” End credits also state: “Filmed entirely on location in ORLANDO, FLORIDA and NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jan 1989.
---
Daily Variety
14 Nov 1988
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1988
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1988
p. 5, 60.
LA Weekly
18 Nov 1988.
---
LAHExam
12 Nov 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 1988
Section K, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1988
Calendar, p. 2, 7.
New York Times
11 Nov 1988
p. 15.
Variety
10 Aug 1988
p. 6.
Variety
16 Nov 1988
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures Presents
In Association With Silver Screen Partners III
An Emshell Producers Group Presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam P.A.
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Prop man
Const coord
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Scoring mixer
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Boom man
Cable person
Sd supv
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst dial ed
Apprentice
Apprentice
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Post-prod sd facilities provided by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff/Grip welder
Visual eff prod, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Visual eff coord, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Motion control op, Buena Vista Visual Effects Grou
Motion control op, Buena Vista Visual Effects Grou
Opt cam op, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Opt cam op, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Opt line-up, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Opt line-up, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Eff anim, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
In-betweener, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Matte artist, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Storyboard artist, Buena Vista Visual Effects Grou
Eff librarian, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
B&W lab, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
B&W lab, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
B&W lab, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Key hair stylist
Makeup and hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Creative consultant
Scr supv
2d unit scr supv
Extras casting
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
First aid
First aid
Caterer, Production Catering
Caterer, Production Catering
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Animal trainer/Handler
Animal trainer/Handler
Animal trainer/Handler
Animal trainer/Handler
Asst to Mr. Cherry
STAND INS
Ernest stunt double
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer, Buena Vista Visual Effects Group
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 November 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 November 1988
Production Date:
April--10 May 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 November 1988
Copyright Number:
PA385006
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and lenses by Panavision ®
Prints
Prints by Metro Color
Duration(in mins):
75, 86 or 89-91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29380
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. in Orlando, Florida, Santa Claus, wearing a business suit, arrives at the airport with his magical red bag. He chats with a businessman who wishes it would snow for Christmas. Having trouble with his memory, Santa makes a note of the wish in his notebook. At the airport storage warehouse, workers Chuck and Bobby unload a number of large crates. Looking at the address label, Chuck thinks the boxes are addressed to “Helper Elmes,” while Bobby thinks it says “Helper Elves.” Suddenly, eight reindeer escape and fly up to the ceiling. As Santa looks for a taxi, cab driver Ernest P. Worrell arrives, running over several suitcases. With the suitcase owners and an airline porter after him, Ernest ushers Santa inside his cab and they drive away. On the highway, Ernest sees a Christmas tree fall off the back of a truck. Stopping in the middle of the road, Ernest places the tree in the cab. Afterward, Santa asks Ernest if he knows of Joe Carruthers, former host of a local children’s television program, Uncle Joey’s Treehouse. Ernest remembers the show, but Santa tells him it was canceled three weeks ago and he wants Joe to take over his own job, as he needs to retire. Later, teenager Harmony Star jumps into Ernest’s cab as a waiter chases her for not paying her lunch bill. The three arrive at the Orlando Children’s Museum. Santa pays ... +


On December 23rd at 2:00 p.m. in Orlando, Florida, Santa Claus, wearing a business suit, arrives at the airport with his magical red bag. He chats with a businessman who wishes it would snow for Christmas. Having trouble with his memory, Santa makes a note of the wish in his notebook. At the airport storage warehouse, workers Chuck and Bobby unload a number of large crates. Looking at the address label, Chuck thinks the boxes are addressed to “Helper Elmes,” while Bobby thinks it says “Helper Elves.” Suddenly, eight reindeer escape and fly up to the ceiling. As Santa looks for a taxi, cab driver Ernest P. Worrell arrives, running over several suitcases. With the suitcase owners and an airline porter after him, Ernest ushers Santa inside his cab and they drive away. On the highway, Ernest sees a Christmas tree fall off the back of a truck. Stopping in the middle of the road, Ernest places the tree in the cab. Afterward, Santa asks Ernest if he knows of Joe Carruthers, former host of a local children’s television program, Uncle Joey’s Treehouse. Ernest remembers the show, but Santa tells him it was canceled three weeks ago and he wants Joe to take over his own job, as he needs to retire. Later, teenager Harmony Star jumps into Ernest’s cab as a waiter chases her for not paying her lunch bill. The three arrive at the Orlando Children’s Museum. Santa pays Ernest his fare of $32.50 with “Mr. Funtime” play money. When Ernest realizes Santa has no real money, he says there is no charge. Inside the museum, Santa finds Joe Carruthers entertaining a group of children with dinosaur puppets. After the children leave, Santa tells Joe he has been chosen to be the new Santa Claus. However, Joe’s agent, Marty Brock, interrupts and tells Joe he has an audition for a movie titled Christmas Slay. As Marty explains to Joe he needs to shave his beard for the role, Santa remembers he left his red bag in Ernest’s taxicab. However, when he goes outside, Ernest and Harmony are gone. Joe and museum employee, Mary Morrissey, assist Santa in tracking down Ernest. Marty Brock instructs Joe to go to his audition and he will assist “Mr. Santos.” After Joe leaves, Santa explains to Marty Brock and Mary that he is Santa Claus and needs his bag. However, they do not believe him and call the police. Officers arrive and take Santa to the police station. After the audition, Marty Brock tells Joe the director liked him and he has a screen test tomorrow. Joe asks about Mr. Santos, but Brock tells him not to worry about the old man. At the Florida Cab Co. garage, Mr. Dillis, Ernest’s boss, fires him for not charging customers. Ernest and Harmony leave in Ernest’s truck with the forgotten red bag and Christmas tree and go to the home of Ernest’s best friend, Vern. Barging in, they tell Vern they will help decorate for his Christmas party. However, while helping, Ernest wrecks the living room. As he goes to his truck for some tools, Ernest opens the red bag. Seeing its magical contents, Ernest believes his cab customer really was Santa Claus. Later, Ernest and Harmony return to the Orlando Children’s Museum, but it is closed. The following day, December 24th at 7:00 a.m., Ernest and Harmony return to the museum and ask Mary Morrissey where Santa is. She tells them he was taken to the police station. To rescue Santa, Ernest and Harmony enter the station in disguise. Ernest introduces himself as “Aster Clement,” an official from the Florida governor’s office, assigned to conduct a surprise inspection. He introduces Harmony as “Mindy,” the governor’s niece who is writing a paper on government. Police Chief Spenks gives them a tour of the jail and takes them to the cell where Santa is being held. Aster informs the chief that Santa is not in the state of mind to be in jail, and says he will take him to a more appropriate facility. In the station parking lot, Santa tells Ernest and Harmony about his history as Santa Claus, starting in 1859. He also states the magic of Santa Claus fades over time, and he needs to convince Joe Carruthers to be the new Santa before 7:00 p.m. Otherwise, Christmas will disappear. Harmony states there is no Santa Claus. However, Santa addresses her by her real name, Pamela Trenton, and recalls that she used to believe. To find Joe, they go to Superior Talent, Inc., and Ernest dresses up as Mrs. Brock, the mother of Joe’s agent, Marty. While waiting, Santa tells Harmony he knows she ran away a month ago, and her mother misses her. Ernest returns and tells them Joe is at the Diamond World Pictures studios. Ernest and Santa to go to the studio while Harmony stays at Ernest’s house with Santa’s bag. She opens the bag searching for money, but finds only toys. To have more time looking, she makes a fake bag out of a piece of red cloth stuffed with feathers. Arriving at Diamond World Pictures, a disguised Ernest tells the security guard he is from the Apopka Snake Ranch with a snake delivery. After gaining entrance to the lot, Santa searches for Joe Carruthers. Meanwhile on the set of Christmas Slay, Joe tells Marty Brock he has some reservations about his role, but Brock ignores him. Santa sees Joe acting in a scene with two children. After the children leave, a monster appears. Joe picks up a prop gun, but he stops the scene, uncomfortable swearing in front of children. Santa walks up to the film’s director and says he thought the film was called Christmas Sleigh. The director informs Santa the film is a horror movie titled Christmas Slay, about an alien attacking Earth’s children on Christmas. Horrified by the concept, Santa punches the director. Santa tells Joe he has been chosen to be the new Santa Claus, as he is getting too old and forgetful. Tentatively, Joe agrees. Santa finds Ernest and tells him they need to meet back at the Children’s Museum with Santa’s reindeer and sleigh before 7:00 p.m. When Ernest asks where the reindeer and sleigh are, Santa says he had them stored at the airport. Returning to Ernest’s home, Harmony hands Santa the fake bag, and takes the magical bag to the train station. To make it to the museum in time, Ernest drops Santa at Joe’s house with the bag and drives to the warehouse. Joe answers the door with his face clean-shaven, saying he is taking the role in Christmas Slay. Santa hands him the red bag to prove he is Santa Claus. However, Joe only sees feathers. Disappointed, Santa gets on a bus and arrives at the museum, finding Mary Morrissey closing up. Ernest arrives at the warehouse with a rental truck, but Chuck and Bobby say the crates are addressed to “Helper Elves” or “Helper Elmes.” Suddenly, two of Santa’s elves, Pyramus and Thisbe, appear and order the reindeer and sleigh into the truck. Ernest takes a shortcut to the museum, but runs over a line of tire spikes. Hooking up the reindeer to the sleigh, Ernest is able to make the sleigh fly, but unable to control it, and he, Pyramus, and Thisbe fly erratically all over the city and planet. At the Diamond World Picture offices, Marty Brock and Joe meet with the Christmas Slay director to sign Joe’s contract. However, Joe requests the film’s violence and language be toned down. When his request is denied, he sees the sleigh flying past the window and decides to become Santa Claus. At the train station, Harmony feels guilty about taking the bag and runs to the museum. Harmony apologizes to Santa and says she is going to return home. Joe arrives at 6:57 p.m. Shaking Santa’s hand, Joe is transformed into the new Santa Claus with a red suit and white beard. The former Santa tells Joe about the businessman’s Christmas wish for snow in Orlando. With his new powers as Santa Claus, Joe makes snow fall across the city of Orlando. At 6:59 p.m., Ernest and the elves land in front of the museum. Joe asks Ernest to be his driver for the night, and Harmony to be an “honorary elf.” They both agree. After they leave, Santa tells Mary his former name was Seth Applegate, and he will have to go back to it. At the storage warehouse, Chuck and Bobby receive a new crate. While reading the name “E. Bunny” on the address label, a pair of large rabbit ears stick out the top of the crate. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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