Hallmark v. Lifetime: ‘Business Wars’ recounts the ongoing battle for the Kingdom of Christmas movies
In the highest room of the tallest skyscraper sits the executive suite, where behind the boardroom doors, all of the chief officers are plotting for war. “Business Wars” is an unauthorized look at how corporations grab our attention and thus, our wallets. This beloved Wondery podcast brings to us the world of corporate warfare, complete with the rise, and sometimes ruin, of the biggest companies in the world. And just in time for the holidays, they’ve come out with their newest season titled “Christmas Movie Wars.”
“Business Wars” has released nearly 400 episodes, as fans of the show keep demanding more. Released in usually seven parts, episodes average at about 30 minutes, weaving us through the elaborate battle plans of companies like Nike, Blackberry, Death Row Records, and more. This podcast comes recommended to us from the Christmas movie expert himself, Bran Gray of “Deck The Hallmark.”
But it’s Christmas, and no doubt we’ve all noticed the steady rise in original Christmas and holiday movies being released in recent years. They aren’t all good, and they won’t all be within the Christmas canon that includes Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, Love Actually or even Jim Carrey’s Grinch. But no one dominates this kind of Christmas movie market more than Hallmark.
Well, at least Hallmark did rule the Christmas movie market for years, but in recent years, a new foe has appeared. Lifetime has been releasing holiday movies here and there since the mid-2000s. They were similar to Hallmark original movies, as they followed all of the same tropes and rarely strayed from the rom-com path. But Hallmark reigned supreme, especially after establishing their Countdown to Christmas in 2009, when the channel released over a dozen Christmas films leading up to the holiday. Even when Lifetime began to make more Christmas movies in 2012, launching their own Christmas movie programming, Hallmark could not be topped.
Then comes what “Business Wars” calls the Great Christmas Movie Explosion. In 2018, Lifetime makes a big move, striking Hallmark right in its Achilles Heel: diversity. It’s sad, but it’s true. That year, Lifetime made more Christmas movies than ever before, casting a number of diverse, non-white leads. But Hallmark still stays on top, launching a streaming app where you can watch any of their movies whenever you wanted.
Oh, but 2018? That’s not too far back. Streaming services were well-established by that point; Hallmark’s app was nothing new. Suddenly, Netflix is in the Christmas movie game, as they didn’t take long to capitalize on its vastly superior legacy, resources, and connections with Hollywood actors.
Now, in 2021, Netflix has been pumping out movies where Vanessa Hudgens continues to play more and more characters within the same film; we finally got the gay Christmas movie we deserve in Happiest Season on Hulu, and Peacock, HBO, Apple TV+, and so many more have hopped on the original Christmas movie trend.
“Business Wars” actually makes these stories, which could be bogged down with all the semantics of the corporate world, extremely compelling. The production quality is through the roof, creating a fascinating look into the battle tactics companies have used against each other. Many are still open ended, like this Christmas Movie Wars series. It’s most recent episode, the fifth chapter in this story, brings us to the COVID-19 pandemic, when movie sets had to be shut down, and Hallmark and Lifetime are in danger of not being able to produce as many movies as they used to. “Business Wars” begs the questions: who will come out on top of the Christmas Movie Wars, and will it even be Hallmark or Lifetime?