'A Boy Called Christmas' — release date, cast, trailer, plot and everything we know about this new movie
Get into the festive spirit with 'A Boy Called Christmas' about the origins of Santa.
A Boy Called Christmas has an all-star cast to die for, including Dame Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent and Toby Jones, and a setting to rival Narnia, so this big movie promises to be as Christmassy as it comes. It's super sweet too as it follows the adventures of Santa as a boy.
Coming to cinemas, Sky Cinema as part of Christmas TV scheduling in the UK, plus launching on Netflix in select countries such as the US, the film tells the story of the origins of Santa Claus/Father Christmas through the exploits of Nikolas, a young boy from Finland who ends up setting off on a magical quest. Joining him are his loyal pet mouse Miika (voiced by Stephen Merchant) and a headstrong reindeer Blitzen.
Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Gil Kenan adapted the screenplay from the bestselling book by Matt Haig (see below).
Here's our guide on what to expect in A Boy Called Christmas on Sky Cinema and Netflix...
'A Boy Called Christmas' release date
A Boy Called Christmas is a big festive movie launching on Netflix in the US on Wednesday, Nov. 24. In the UK, this film will be shown on the Sky Cinema channel from Friday Nov. 26 and in cinemas across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and China on that same date. So you can expect to feel that festive spirit nice and early.
'A Boy Called Christmas' plot
A Boy Called Christmas follows a decidedly ordinary boy called Nikolas, nicknamed ‘Christmas’, who sets out on an extraordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to find the fabled elf village of Elfheim. It’s a dangerous trek and Nikolas faces many obstacles but he eventually discovers Elfheim, which is only found through true faith. However, there he learns that humans are hugely unpopular and he’s thrown into a dungeon with a hungry troll and a truth pixie, who can’t tell lies. No spoilers here but it’s fair to say Nikolas goes on quite the journey, in more ways than one!
'A Boy Called Christmas' cast — who's starring
Newcomer Henry Lawfull plays protagonist Nikolas but he has a stellar cast supporting him. Toby Jones (Detectorists) plays Father Topo while Downton Abbey’s Dame Maggie Smith is Aunt Ruth. Jim Broadbent, star of the Harry Potter movies, is Father Vodol. Stephen Merchant, from The Office and Jojo Rabbit, lends his voice to Nikolas’ mouse friend Miika while Sally Hawkins (Paddington 1 & 2) is Mother Something. Indica Watson, Kristen Wiig, Michiel Huisman and Zoe Colletti also star.
'A Boy Called Christmas' trailer
The trailer for A Boy Called Christmas (below) sees Dame Maggie Smith, aka Aunt Ruth, telling a group of children that until Nikolas nobody had ever heard of Christmas. We see the King asking for volunteers to travel to the edge of the kingdom to bring back a spark of magic to give hope to its people. Then we join Nikolas as he sets off with his cute mouse companion on an epic quest to find the fabled elf village. The trailer shows a winter wonderland, full of magic, which suggests this movie will be more Christmassy than Mr Claus himself. And as Dame Maggie Smith says in the trailer: “Nikolas showed the world that anything could happen.”
'A Boy Called Christmas' cast — interviews with Jim Broadbent, Stephen Merchant and Michiel Huisman
Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent (Iris, Harry Potter) relished his role as the affable King. "He’s a very sad king, with a sad kingdom, so he challenges people to find happiness and bring it back," says Jim, 72, delighted that the role gave him his first flight on a reindeer. "It was like being on one of those fairground bucking broncos where you have to hang on as they try to throw you off. I did a lot of flying with Henry Lawfull [who plays Nikolas]. It’s fun doing things I’ve never done before – brings out the child in me!"
Actor and writer Stephen Merchant lends his voice to Miika, the fretful CGI mouse who, with a bit of magic, becomes Nikolas’s over-chatty companion.
"I never watch animated or family films as I don’t have kids myself, but I’ve got a niece and nephew who are six and seven, so I like the idea they can watch me in things that aren’t too naughty," says Stephen, current star of The Outlaws and soon to be playing serial killer Stephen Port in BBC1 drama Four Lives.
Spending days in the sound booth wasn’t easy, however, as Stephen found himself wearing a bizarre technological rig on his head. "I had to wear a headdress with a camera on it that was filming me, so the animators could take my specific facial movements and incorporate them into the animated version of Miika. It imbues him, hopefully, with my personality. I think I did a wonderful job!"
Dutch actor Michiel Huisman (Angela Black), who plays Joel, says: "I loved the script – it made me laugh and it made me cry, and that’s all I need from a script. Life has become grim since Joel lost his wife and he thinks bringing back hope will be the answer to everything that’s missing in their lives."
Henry Lawfull on playing Nikolas in 'A Boy Called Christmas'
The leading star of A Boy Called Christmas is Henry Lawfull who met producers at the beginning of their casting search who then chose him to play Nikolas a couple of months later.
"I went to a church where I met casting director Susie Figgis and had an audition," remembers Henry. "Then they called me back and I had four auditions in the end. Once I got the role, I thought about how I would play Nikolas," continues Henry, who was given riding lessons and stunt training in preparation. "I think he is really optimistic. He’s really magical and believes in everything, and I think he gets that from his mother. She was a massive influence on him."
'A Boy Called Christmas' locations
Filming of A Boy Called Christmas took place in Lapland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and London. It was directed by Academy Award nominee Gil Kenan (Monster House).
"We flew to the edge of the Arctic Circle to a town called Tromsø in Norway, and as we got out of the plane, I felt the breath in my lungs start to freeze. It was minus-40 degrees," says the film’s director, Gil Kenan.
The magical settlement of Elfhelm is similarly spectacular, with a bustling elf village made up of pointy houses and colourful windmills built on a studio backlot in Prague.
"It was really inspiring," says Toby Jones, who plays elf Father Topo. "No one becomes an actor to stand in front of a green-screen and here, we had a concrete world, with snow being blasted in. It was such a pleasure to work there."
'A Boy Called Christmas' costumes
Award-winning costume designer Ruth Myers, who has worked on films including The Addams Family and Emma, and her team made over 100 costumes for A Boy Called Christmas – a riot of colourful, folkloric outfits made of wool, felt and linens with matching headpieces, bags and shoes – all under strict instructions that Christmas clichés and ‘cutesy’ elves should be avoided at all costs!
"I had some basic rules in terms of the look,’ says director Gil Kenan. "Red and green were never side by side, none of the elves had striped socks and there weren’t any bells at the ends of hats!"
'A Boy Called Christmas' — the books by Matt Haig
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig (opens in new tab) is the first in a festive series of books for children by the best-selling author and mental health campaigner. His other books include The Girl Who Saved Christmas and A Mouse Called Miika (opens in new tab), about Nikolas’ trusty companion, so don’t be surprised if they make it onto the big screen too. The idea came about when Matt’s son asked what Father Christmas was like as a boy.
“I wrote this story to cheer myself up,” Matt wrote on Instagram when he saw the movie’s poster (see below). “A story of hope in the dark. Never expected this to happen.”
The books are illustrated by Chris Mould.
For other Christmas TV treats to enjoy in 2021, hit the links below...
* Single All The Way on Netflix
* Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After
* The Last Train To Christmas
* A Christmas Number One
* The Larkins Christmas Special
* Robin Robin
* Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby
* Death in Paradise Christmas special
* Worzel Gummidge Christmas 2021
* The Amazing Mr Blunden
* The Mezzotint
* The Voice Kids Christmas 2021
* The Hairy Bikers Go North For Christmas
* Blankety Blank Christmas Special 2021
* The Wall vs. Celebrities Christmas Special
* Netflix reveals 2021 holiday movies, TV shows and specials lineup
* Best Christmas movies
* Best Christmas movies on Disney Plus
* Best Christmas movies on Netflix
* The Book of Boba Fett on Disney Plus
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.