In Lowell, Massachusetts near Christmas, widowed mother Claire struggles to hold her family together after the death of her firefighter husband Doug. Her son Teddy has started stealing cars. Her younger daughter Kate nevertheless is trying to keep Christmas spirit alive. On Christmas Eve, Claire is forced to fill in for a coworker, leaving Teddy to look after Kate. While watching old Christmas videos, Kate notices a strange arm appear out of the fireplace. Kate believes this is Santa Claus and blackmails Teddy to help her prove it is him. The two set up a makeshift trip wire and a hidden camera. Kate is later woken up and sees Santa in the living room. However, he escapes to the roof. The two children follow. Kate decides to hide in his sleigh to get a closer look, and Teddy reluctantly follows her. Santa rides off with the kids in tow. When Kate decides to make her presence known, Santa and the reindeer are startled and he loses control of the sleigh. After teleporting to Chicago, Illinois, the sleigh breaks down, causing the reindeer to scatter and Santa’s hat and bag of presents to be lost. Santa introduces himself to the kids, and tells them that he has to get back to delivering presents as soon as possible or elseChristmas Spirit will be gone. Without his hat, Santa can not move quickly or through tight spaces like he does. The kids are forced to help him after he threatens to list them as bad kids permanently. They stop at a bar where Santa tries to seek help from the patrons. When they get no assistance, they steal a car, which itself was already stolen by the bartender. They locate the reindeer but encounter a police car driven by police officers Dave Poveda and Mikey Jameson. Kate goes after the reindeer by herself while Teddy and Santa lure the police away. Santa is arrested, while Kate and Teddy escape with the reindeer. The kids find Santa’s bag, and Kate goes inside to find help. She is teleported to the North Pole where she encounters Santa’s elves, who agree to help her. Meanwhile, Teddy is attacked by a group of thugs who take him and the bag to their hideout, but he is saved by Kate and the elves, who set out to repair Santa’s sleigh. At the police precinct, Santa tries to explain his situation to Officer Poveda. When Santa reveals his wish this year is to reconcile with his ex-wife Lisa, who also shares that wish, Poveda is taken aback, but still refuses to believe him. Poveda has Santa locked in the holding cell, though he becomes suspicious when he sees a larger number of arrests than usual on Christmas Eve. Seeing that Christmas Spirit has gotten too low, Santa gathers all the inmates to perform "Santa Claus Is Back in Town", which works amongst all the officers except Poveda. Poveda is finally convinced when he receives a call from Lisa, who invites him out for coffee in the morning, and agrees to let Santa go. One of the elves arrives through the air vent to give Santa a spare hat. Santa goes outside to find his sleigh repaired. Santa sees that he only has an hour until morning to complete delivering presents, so the kids agree to help him. Santa is able to deliver all the presents, saving Christmas. Santa drops the kids off back at their home before their mother returns. Santa gives Teddy his hat as a memento, showing that he did not really need it. When he leaves, he gives Kate a "Ho, Ho, Ho", a saying he previously stated was an urban myth about him. When Claire returns, they go inside to find the living room decorated like their father used to. They start opening presents, When they get to Santa's gifts, Kate gets the skateboard she asked for, while Teddy gets a magic ornament. When Teddy hangs it on the tree, he sees his dad magically appear in his reflection, and they both express pride in each other. Back in the North Pole, Santa reunites with Mrs. Claus.
In December 2017, it was reported that Kurt Russell would star as Santa Claus in the film, for Netflix, later given the title The Christmas Chronicles. Principal photography began in January 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. The film was set in Lowell, Massachusetts and Chicago, Illinois.
The film was released on November 22, 2018.
, a review aggregator, reports a 65% approval rating based on 54 reviews, with an average score of 5.81/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Viewers seeking a fresh holiday viewing option -- or those simply in the mood for Santa Kurt Russell -- should find The Christmas Chronicles well worth a yuletide stream." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." According to an announcement by chief content officer for Netflix, Ted Sarandos, the film earned 20 million streams in its first week on Netflix.
A sequel to The Christmas Chronicles will be directed by Chris Columbus, who served as a producer on the first film. Stars Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Judah Lewis have been confirmed to reprise their roles. Julian Dennison and Jahzir Bruno were also cast to appear in the sequel, titled The Christmas Chronicles 2.