The Reason Why So Many Movies Open on Christmas Day

dolgachov/iStock via Getty Images
dolgachov/iStock via Getty Images

When Paramount decided to release the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby comedy Road to Rio in theaters on December 25, 1947, studio executives were slightly concerned. Would moviegoers consider the premiere of a film on Christmas Day to be in poor taste? Would it be offensive to some?

They shouldn’t have worried. The film was a hit, making an impressive $4.5 million, and Hollywood has made Christmas Day (or near-Christmas Day) releases a major part of their financial strategy ever since. The reason? While Christmas is a sacrosanct holiday for many, the closing of businesses creates a vacuum. Few stores are open and diversions are hard to come by, making a trip to the movies one of the only ways families can congregate somewhere other than home during a holiday break. Some theaters report business picks up after 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. in the afternoons, when presents have been unwrapped and people with free time are in search of something to do.

Because of time off from work and school, movies also have a chance to achieve “legs,” or the ability to stretch their success over a longer period. While big-budget films are often deemed a success or failure based largely on their opening weekend box office tallies, a smaller film, like 2007’s P.S. I Love You, can open small and still come out ahead. That particular film made just $6.5 million during its opening weekend, but wound up with $53.7 million through January.

This year, several films will debut on December 25, including the fact-based docudrama Just Mercy, the Will Smith animated comedy Spies in Disguise, the World War I drama 1917, and Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women. If past box office trends hold, it could be a very profitable season for studios. Of the five biggest box office hits of all time—1997’s Titanic, 2009’s Avatar, 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame—all but the Avengers films were late-season holiday releases.

While there’s lots of family fare, studios also look to the season to highlight movies that might be in awards contention. From 1986 to 2005, half of all the Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards were released on or after December 15. When the Oscars were moved up a month from March to February, studios moved award hopefuls back. Now, prestige pictures arrive in theaters in October and November, too.

Of course, whether a movie can enjoy a financial windfall during Christmas depends a lot on what part of the world you’re in. While a Christmas run works in America, China tends to fill theaters during the Chinese New Year in late January or February. The French line up over Labor Day weekend. Russia prefers New Year’s Day. For the Japanese, the April and early May Golden Week holiday is a prime theater window. But in all territories, the motive is largely the same: People want something to do with—or a way to briefly get away from—family.

Koalas Aren’t Bears, So Why Do People Call Them ‘Koala Bears’?

Arnaud_Martinez/iStock via Getty Images
Arnaud_Martinez/iStock via Getty Images

If you—with no prior knowledge of koalas or pouched animals in general—spotted a tree-climbing, leaf-munching, fur-covered creature in the wild, you might assume it was a small bear. That’s essentially what happened in the 18th century, and it’s the reason we still call koalas “bears” today, even when we know better.

In the late 1700s, English-speaking settlers happened upon a small animal in Australia that looked like a small, gray bear with a pouch. It was soon given the scientific name Phascolarctos cinereus, which is derived from Greek words meaning “ash-gray pouched bear.” Essentially, naturalists had named the unknown animal based on its appearance and behavior, and people didn’t realize until later that the presence of a pouch is a dead giveaway that an animal is definitely not a bear.

According to Live Science, koalas and bears both belong to the same class, Mammalia (i.e. they’re mammals). Then their taxonomic branches diverge: koalas belong to an infraclass called Marsupialia. Marsupials, unlike bears, give birth to their offspring when they’re still underdeveloped, and then carry them around in pouches. Even if koalas look just as cuddly as bear cubs, they’re much more closely related to other marsupials like kangaroos and wombats.

Over time, people adopted a name that the Aboriginal Darug people in Australia used for the animal, koala.

But bear still stuck as a modifier, and scientists never went back and replaced arctos (from arktos, Greek for bear) in its genus Phascolarctos with something more accurate. So, technically speaking, koalas are still called bears, even by scientists.

Wondering how you can help the lovable non-bears survive Australia’s wildfires? Here are 12 ideas.

[h/t Live Science]

The Reason Why Button-Down Shirts Have Loops On the Back

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

The apparel industry has presented a number of intriguing mysteries over the years. We’ve previously covered why clothes shrink in the wash, deciphered the laundry care tags on clothes, and figured out why shorts cost as much as pants. But one enduring puzzle persists: What’s with that weird loop on the back of button-down shirts?

The loop, which is found on many dress shirts for both men and women, is a small piece of fabric that typically occupies the space between the shoulder blades, where the yoke (upper back) of the shirt meets the pleat. While it can be an excellent way to annoy someone by tugging on it, history tells us it originally had a much more pragmatic function. The loops first became popular among naval sailors, who didn’t typically have much closet or storage space available for their uniforms. To make putting away and drying their shirts easier, the loops were included so they could be hung from a hook.

The loops didn’t remain exclusive to the Navy, however. In the 1960s, clothing manufacturer GANT added what became known as a locker loop to their dress shirts so their customers—frequently Ivy League college students—could hang the shirts in their lockers without them getting wrinkled. (The loop was originally placed on the back of the collar.) Later, students repurposed the loops to communicate their relationship status. If a man’s loop was missing, it meant he was dating someone. Women adopted an apparel-related signal, too: wearing their boyfriend’s scarf to indicate they were taken.

Particularly enthusiastic partners would rip the loop off spontaneously, which became a bit of a trend in the ‘60s. At the time, women who had crushes wearing Moss brand shirts complained that their loops were so strong and secure that they couldn’t be torn off.

For people who wanted to have a loop without ruining a shirt, one mail-order company offered to send just the loops to people in the mail.

You can still find the loops on shirts today, though they don't appear to have any social significance. Should you find one that's torn, it's probably due to wear, not someone's relationship status.