‘Christmas with the Kranks (2004),’ helmed by director Joe Roth, introduces us to the titular Krank family, whose only daughter flies off to Peru before Christmas. For the Kranks, celebrating Christmas has been a serious tradition, done on a scale to amaze their neighborhood of Hemlock Street each year. However, down with empty nest syndrome, Luther Krank suggests skipping Christmas and going on a Carrebian cruise. Initially horrified at the idea, his wife eventually agrees, not wanting to celebrate without her daughter either. As Christmas approaches, everyone in the community is bewildered at the Krank home’s lack of decorations. They take up a joint effort to make the family decorate, with Christmas carolers signing on their lawn, kids chanting demands for Frosty the Snowman to be put up, and the local newspaper writing a front-page article about it.
On Christmas Eve morning the couple receives a call from their daughter. She tells them that she is coming home to surprise her parents and is looking forward to their usual celebration. The two scramble to make arrangements and put up decorations within their twelve-hour window, and succeed with their entire neighborhood rallying to help them. The classic 2004 Christmas comedy, based on John Grisham’s book, ‘Skipping Christmas,’ is a heartwarming tale about family, community, and the Christmas spirit. Seeing the nostalgic back and forth between the Kranks and their Riverside community, you might wonder if filming for the Yuletide tale was done on Hemlock Street in Chicago, and which locations were used by the filmmakers to lens the iconic scenes.
Christmas with the Kranks Filming Locations
‘Christmas with the Kranks’ was largely filmed in three backlots in Los Angeles, with a few scenes being lensed in Vancouver. While the filmmakers initially searched from Chicago to Minnesota for a suitable suburban neighborhood to portray Hemlock Street, they came up empty-handed and decided to create it from scratch themselves. The director was later relieved with the decision, since they shot for weeks with a lot of night scenes, something that would have caused an actual neighborhood a lot of problems. Let us take a closer look at the filming locations created and chosen for the holiday movie.
Los Angeles, California
Studios and backlots within Los Angeles County became the major filming sites for ‘Christmas with the Kranks.’ The established soundstages and backlots of Universal Studios in Universal City, Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, and Culver Studios in Culver City were used to lens scenes of the Kranks outside their neighborhood. The lion’s share of shooting took place on one of the largest sets ever created for a film, in Downey Studios, Downey.
Unable to find the perfect neighborhood suited for their vision of Hemlock Street, the minds behind ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ opted to build a set at Downy Studios on 12214 Lakewood Boulevard in Downey. They created the entire neighborhood of Hemlock Street spanning 700 feet end to end, from scratch, using the area of a defunct Boeing hanger parking lot. Over a period of twelve weeks, with hundreds of carpenters, plasterers, and painters working, 16 full-sized houses were erected. The core houses of the Kranks, Frohmeyer, Becker, Scheel, and Trogdon were made with full ground floors and dressed with furnishing. Despite the elaborate construction, for scenes involving the first floor of the Krank’s home, a sound stage was used. The entire operation cost about $5 million and the set was later used for filming scenes in ‘Supernatural,’ ‘Pineapple Express,’ and ‘24.’
Since their studio in Downy lacked a downtown area, the film crew turned to Universal Studios located at 100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City. The New York City street backlot at the studio was used to film scenes of the Kranks visiting stores in their rushed and comically ill-fated shopping sprees. The backlot’s New York street was used to create Chip’s Market, where Luther goes to buy white chocolate and pistachios. The same street was utilized for The Pumpkin Seed Paperie & Press stationary store, which Nora visits.
The Warner Bros Studios on 3400 West Riverside Drive in Burbank set the scene for when the police officers are driving back Blair Krank and her new fiancé, Enrique Decardenal. The scene was filmed at the iconic Hennesy Street of the studio’s backlot. Heneesy Street can also be seen in the 2002 ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Friends,’ ‘Sex and the City,’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
Vancouver, British Columbia
The film’s cast and crew briefly visited the picturesque port city of Vancouver to film a few comedy segments for the movie. The CF Pacific Centre Mall on 701 West Georgia Street became the venue for creating a hilarious scene where the Kranks visit a tanning salon. Owned by Cadillac Fairview, the three-story mall has stood as a center for Christmas shopping and celebrations in Vancouver since the 1970s.