Unfortunately, some things did go wrong. The original film, including the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade scene, was shot on location in New York with the express permission of Macy’s to use its flagship 34th Street store and name. When Les Mayfield and his production team approached the department store for the 1994 remake, it declined any involvement, with a spokesperson saying what many were probably thinking: “We feel the original stands on its own and could not be improved upon.” Bummer.
That meant shooting a fake parade on Central Park West before moving production to John Hughes’ beloved Chicago, where the filmmakers would shoot much of the scenes involving fake department store and Macy’s stand-in “Cole’s.” But despite these setbacks, the 1994 version still managed to capture some of the magic of the original movie, helped enormously by Richard Attenborough’s kindly and endearing energy in the role of Kris Kringle. Sadly, that didn’t necessarily translate to box office success.
“Miracle on 34th Street” was unleashed upon the public in 1994 and debuted in eighth place at the box office, with an underwhelming take of just $2.8 million. Moviegoers looking for their holiday movie fix were apparently much more interested in Tim Allen killing Santa, with the actor’s “The Santa Clause” standing strong in the number three spot after debuting the week prior. That film remained the top holiday movie for the season, while “Miracle on 34th Street” struggled to find an audience. Fox seemingly panicked, or were perhaps overcome by the spirit of Christmas, and hastily made a move that you rarely see in Hollywood: offering audience refunds.