Could The Holdovers be a new Christmas classic, asks the BBC. Well, not in the UK (this year at least)

Tom Davidson
2 min readDec 20, 2023

I had hoped that the international releasing schedule for low-budget films might have un-fucked itself during the Covid pandemic. A chance for studios and distributors to re-set and reassess their distrubution method which routinely screws over different markets (mostly, but exclusively, those outside America).

Dominic Sessa and Paul Giamatti star in The Holdovers

Alas, no such thing has happened and away from either the big budget behemoths (Oppenheimer, Napoleon), or the would-be box office catnip (comic book or big IP movies), it’s still a bizarre and shitty world to be in.

UK film fans often have to endure an arbitrary two month delay between US and UK releases, usually due to different distrubution companies.

Some of the releases are so staggered that films can scoop Oscars without before enjoying a public release in the UK (reminder: the Oscars are frequently held in March).

This was just the (sad) way of the world. But in 2023 it makes even less sense than ever before.

The Holdovers, the charming new Alexander Payne film (read my review here), enjoyed a successful run in the United States.

A limited release on October 26 in the US by Focus (who bought the film for $30m) was deemed a success and it ‘went wide’ in mid-November.

But then, on November 22, word got out that the film would be available VOD (video on demand, or streaming to you and me) from November 28. A gut-punch to the film’s box office efforts.

What made that decision even more bizarre was that Focus was still limiting the theatrical distribution outside of America.

Colin Paterson at the BBC even had the chutzpah to ask if The Holdovers could be a Christmas classic (maybe this was Focus’ aim with the incredibly swift VOD release).

Well, not in the UK it won’t be.

A little addendum at the bottom of the piece notes: The Holdovers opens in the UK on 19 January.

Any answers as to why that is (especially with UK cinemas crying out for a largely mainstream, funny film for adults) on a postcard please.

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Tom Davidson

31-year-old journalist living in south westLondon trying my hand at some film writing as and when