The 2022 Countdown to Christmas lineup might have just recently ended, but Hallmark is already making plans — and some changes — for the 2023 Christmas season. A Hallmark executive recently opened up about some of the things that are planned.
They’re Considering a More Thematic Approach to the Weekends
In an interview with Decider, Lisa Hamilton Daly, Hallmark’s EVP of Programming, spoke a bit about the changes and plans Hallmark is already starting to consider for the 2023 Christmas lineup.
Typically, she revealed, Hallmark has a “mathematical formula” of sorts for reaching its 40-Christmas-movies-a-year goal.
“I’m not gonna lie: sometimes it’s like, ‘That one’s ready,'” she said. But they tried to do a mix of traditional, comfortable movies and things that were more unexpected. She said the audience really appreciated that mix, and she plans to incorporate more of it into the 2023 lineup.
“We have a core audience who loves what we do, but you’re eventually just doing a version of the same movie over and over again,” Daly told Decider. “You want to break out and do something different once in a while. We’re really cognizant of the fact that we want to keep our longtime fans happy, but they actually seem to love the new stuff we did.”
For this year’s Christmas season, they’re considering a thematic approach to the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night lineup.
“We’re thinking about what’s great for Friday nights, what really works for Saturday nights, and what works for Sunday nights, and we’re thinking about how that cadence works because they do feel like different nights: like Friday night’s the traditional comfort watch; Saturday night might be our big tentpole night; and Sunday might be that thing we’re trying that’s a little different,” Daly told Decider.
“That’s what we think that the weekends feel like, but we’re still in the very early stages of thinking about how it’s gonna work out,” she added.
Daly said that one of the few projects they’ve specifically announced so far is “A Biltmore Christmas,” which is being filmed at the Biltmore in North Carolina.
“It has period flashbacks that are absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “…We’re looking at having that diversity of content because we don’t want to give people necessarily the same thing every week.”
Parade reported that “A Biltmore Christmas” will star Kristoffer Polaha and Bethany Joy Lenz, and it’s being shot on location at the Biltmore Estate.
Hallmark shared in a press statement: “We know fans will love being transported back in time and the iconic, beautiful Biltmore Estate is the perfect setting to help fans get into the holiday spirit.”
In the movie, Lenz portrays a screenwriter who writes a remake of a 1947 movie that was filmed at the Biltmore House. While taking a guided tour, she accidentally is sent back in time to 1946 as the cast prepares for the Christmas movie.
Hallmark Will Continue Having Diversity of Content, Including Comedies, Within a G-Rated Framework
Daly shared with Decider that comedies were among the new things they tried last year that hit surprisingly well.
“We were really surprised by how well comedies — like straight-up comedies — did for us this year,” Daly said.
She recalled that her daughter loved “Haul Out the Holly,” and she heard that quite a few people outside their normal demographic were really enjoying the comedies this past year.
“We opened up to more non-ladies-25-to-50,” she recalled. “We really were trying to grab that bigger audience and I think we succeeded. I was really thrilled with how that all went and the different types of storylines — like ‘Ghosts of Christmas Always’ was a fun, cool, different thing, and when we made it I was like, ‘Well, I hope it works. I hope people like it.’ And turns out they did, and it’s exciting to see that.”
Later in the interview, she circled back to what a big hit comedies were.
“I think the biggest takeaway for me last year was that our audiences want more comedy, and that may speak to the moment we’re in,” she said. “People just want to escape and laugh, and that was a genre that we hadn’t given them before.”
Daly added that they really are loosening the reins and giving their writers more freedom.
“We have given all of those people more leeway, and that’s why what’s coming back is so great,” she said.
Of course, she quickly added, all these new movies will still fit within Hallmark’s family-friendly, G-rated format.
“We’re still working inside of mostly G ratings, we’re working inside a focus on love and connection and family, and different holiday traditions,” Daly said. “We’re giving people more latitude… and what we’re getting back is some really creative stuff.”
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