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The Hallmark Christmas That Almost Wasn’t

By Lori Perkins


Everyone who has the slightest romantic bone in their body knows that December is the SuperBowl of romance movies for the Hallmark Channel. Known as Countdown to Christmas, the channel usually airs hundreds of holiday rom-coms from October through December, and often launches up to a hundred new movies during that time.


But this year, there was an international pandemic that delayed movie and TV production. Hallmark originally expected to have 80 new movies for 2020, but according to Michelle Vicary, Hallmark Channel's executive vice president of programming Countdown to Christmas, after the coronavirus outbreak shut down production on movies and TV sets in March, the mission was to save Countdown to Christmas' slate of 40 original movies once it became apparent that it was going to be much longer than a few weeks before production resumed.


"We knew we weren't going to get movies on in the spring and even into the summer," Vicary explained to E! News. "We were concerned about the fall, but we knew we had to get our Christmas slate going."


And, just like the plots of many of the Hallmark holiday films featuring small town community efforts to save beloved festivities, the countdown was on for Hallmark’s staff to come together and get Countdown to Christmas on the air. "Literally, the team put everything else down and while the production people were investigating protocols and coming back into production, the development team focused strictly on Christmas," said Vicary.


"Our team, everyone from physical production to the development executives, really dove in and looked at what was going to be realistic, what was going to be evolving and how different it was going to be in each state or country, for that matter, and the different provinces within Canada," she continued. "And it was a while before we actually understood how all the pieces were going to come together. But what we did know was that if we couldn't deliver on holiday as our number one priority, we knew that would not be a good thing. We knew that was the big priority for us."


The end result is that Countdown to Christmas' 2020 slate paid off as 39 of the planned 40 movies ultimately went into production.


Hallmark Channel airs new Christmas movies every Saturday and Sunday in December at 8 p.m. ET, while Hallmark Movies & Mysteries debuts new films at 10 p.m. ET.