There are some entertainment classics that are essential to the Christmas season, and it simply wouldn't be the holidays without them. People like Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch are among them. Ralphie, as well.
Due to the now-traditional 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TBS and TNT from Christmas Eve 8pmET to Christmas Day, the wide-eyed child who dreams of finding a Red Ryder BB gun under the tree despite the famous warning “You'll shoot your eye out” spends a lot of time at home during the holidays.
The 1983 comedy, based on a Jean Shepherd novel, launched Peter Billingsley a young celebrity who subsequently became a director. After directing Couples Retreat and executive producing Four Christmases and Sullivan & Son, he regularly worked with close friend Vince Vaughn.
Despite all that, 41-year-old Billingsley [this interview was done in 2012, Billingsley is now 52] still loves A Christmas Story, as do many others. “There’s a very loyal fan base for that movie,” he says. “Those who like it know it and quote it, and it's part of their Christmas family tradition.”
Billingsley often watches the TBS marathon of the film, which stars Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon as Ralphie's parents and features a leg lamp, pink bunny pajamas, a “triple dog dare” involving a tongue and a very cold flagpole, frontier fantasy sequences, and a terrifying visit to a department-store Santa.
Billingsley reflects, “First of all, I apologize for being in people's houses for 24 hours.” "Having Sullivan & Son on TBS feels like I've been in the TBS family since the A Christmas Story marathon, so it's good to work with them.
Because we have a lot of relatives and kids for Christmas, the movie normally airs at my house. They like it as a tradition, not simply because their uncle is in it. From years of hearing that on the kitchen TV as you come through to fetch more coffee, it feels natural.
Warner Home Video issued a DVD/Blu-ray sequel to A Christmas Story. Billingsley confesses to being less interested in the original film ("The original is as good as it gets") and more intrigued in the 2012 Broadway adaptation of A Christmas Story. especially considering he produced it.
“It’s a big, full-blown musical,” Billingsley adds. “I heard about it, and if something inspires me creatively, I want to participate. I met with the producers after hearing parts of the score because they were making adjustments, so it was ideal timing. I thought I could give a lot, and so far, so good. After successful runs in Seattle and Chicago, it's Broadway.”
Bob Clark, the late director of A Christmas Story, guided Billingsley in his off-camera work. After what Billingsley calls “a mediocre performance” profit-wise in its first theatrical run, the movie ascended to fame, much like It's a Wonderful Life became a Christmas classic.
Although home video had only been around for a few years, it captivated its attention. If there wasn't a packed Christmas window the following year, a movie may obtain a re-release, like A Christmas Story.
Billingsley says, “Cable and video weren’t really part of the equation back then,” so the film’s popularity rose as I got older and outgrew playing that age when I could have been cast for other things. Being part of that movie and seeing it flourish is great. You never expect such success.”