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A major award? 'A Christmas Story' picked as Utah's favorite holiday flick

PLEASANT GROVE — Utahns can’t wait to find out if Ralphie gets an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle.

Every year, Mike Daniels, owner of the Water Gardens Pleasant Grove theater, brings in a Christmas movie for the holiday season.

“Most of the time those movies are for nostalgia, to give people a break, to see something that’s not current for a less price,” Daniels said.

This year, that movie is “A Christmas Story” — the 1983 classic about young Ralphie, who hopes tirelessly that Santa will bring him a BB gun for Christmas.

The film, which is shown on TBS all day on Christmas, is also a favorite for Utahns, at least according to recent research.

CableTV.com just released a map that shows the most popular Christmas films from each state in the nation. In Utah, “A Christmas Story” reigns supreme. In fact, Utah is the only state where the film is listed as the favorite holiday flick.

And that’s part of the reason Daniels has selected the movie for this year’s Christmas film. Last year, the theater showed “A Christmas Story,” along with “Elf” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Though he didn’t have specific numbers, Daniels said “A Christmas Story” outsold the other two films last year, which is why he decided to bring it back. Thankfully, the studios offered the film to the theaters this year so Water Gardens could show it.

“It depends on whether we got a really good response the prior year and what else is available to play in the current year,” he said. “You have to choose. And then if people didn’t respond the prior year, you might have to cut.”

Daniels said he saw a lot of positive responses to the film on Facebook. He said he’s not “particularly drawn to it, but if customers are drawn to it,” then he has no choice but to show it.

“We’re just grateful that people are coming out to support us,” he said.

Utahns can see the film for $1 starting Monday. Tickets can be ordered online at watergardentheaters.com.

Daniels also said that the film’s popularity might be tied to demographics, and that other parts of the nation feel differently.

In fact, one look at the CableTV.com research shows films like “Elf” and “Home Alone” are wildly popular during the holiday season across the country too.

To find this, researchers took the list of the top-rated Christmas movies from American Movie Classics and Google Trends information to determine which movies were marked as favorites.

Interestingly, states tended to like movies that were filmed close to home. States like Connecticut and Illinois favored “Christmas in Connecticut” and “Home Alone,” which were filmed in those states, respectively, according to the report.

Meanwhile, people’s favorite Christmas movies varied by regions. The South, for example, favored goofy comedy Christmas films like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” while those in New England and the North preferred older, nostalgic films, like “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Funny enough, many Western states seemed to embrace eccentric Christmas films, like “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”

“Perhaps the warmer temperatures and the lack of snow put a little more spook into the West’s seasonal preferences, or maybe a more open culture and a larger population of minorities leans their holiday viewing toward embracing the weird and different,” according to the report.

Previous research from Estately, a home-buying information website, found that Utah’s favorite Christmas movie was “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which was the most Googled film in the state the previous year.

Utah also ranked 12th in terms of interest for the top Christmas movies last year, according the research, which was compiled by looking at Facebook data.

Estately's research showed that states rarely agree when it comes to favorite Christmas films. The coasts seem to enjoy “Elf” and the Midwest likes to see the cranky old Grinch get his way.

“So if you’re looking to live amongst people who spend the season watching the shenanigans of Buddy in ‘Elf,’ you have some options on both coasts. And if you’re more of a traditionalist who likes the classic ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ you now know to move to Maryland,” according to Estately.