"Elf," starring Will Ferrell (copy)

Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf in "Elf."

For some people it’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.” For others, it’s “Elf.” Still others make a point to watch “Die Hard” every December (and, yes, it’s definitely a Christmas movie.)

Whatever your holiday traditions, there’s a good chance that watching a movie — often the same movie — during the season is an essential part. Maybe Halloween is the only holiday that’s more associated with movies than Christmas.

Movie theaters know this, which is why, no matter how many big new releases like “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” or “Frozen II” are in theaters, they always make sure to book classic Christmas movies along with the blockbusters.

Here’s what area theaters are showing this December. In between all the shopping and cookie-making, give yourself a couple of hours to immerse in an old holiday favorite — or find a new one.

Marcus Point and Marcus Palace Cinemas — The Milwaukee-based chain is going in the hardest for Christmas movies, programming three classics every day from Dec. 6 – Dec. 12 (“White Christmas,” “Elf” and the Jim Carrey live-action “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) and another three from Dec. 13-19 (“It’s a Wonderful Life,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “The Polar Express”).

If I may be self-serving for a second, I’ll be doing a post-show chat after the “It’s A Wonderful Life” screening at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Marcus Point. Come talk about the movie with me and we’ll all try not to get teary-eyed in front of each other.

FLIX Brewhouse Madison — The movie theater/brewery at East Towne Mall has launched its “12 Days of FLIXmas,” which includes most of the movies Marcus is showing. Exceptions include a special “Chick Flix” screening of “A Bad Moms Christmas” on Monday, Dec. 9, which includes a free glass of sparkling wine and half-price bottles.

They’re also showing “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” on Wednesday, Dec. 11, which is a great comedy but is a THANKSGIVING movie, not a CHRISTMAS movie. Come on.

Majestic Theatre Holiday Brew ‘n’ View — One Christmas movie you likely won’t see playing in movie theaters is “Die Hard.” After Disney bought 20th Century Fox, they reportedly are refusing to allow theaters to screen older Fox titles, including the 1988 terrorists-in-a-building classic. Being a music venue, the Majestic seems to be able to get around the restriction, and is showing “Die Hard” on Thursday, Dec. 19, along with “Elf” on Wednesday, Dec. 11 and “Christmas Vacation” on Saturday, Dec. 21. There are drink specials and free stockings full of complimentary goodies for customers.

UW-Cinematheque — Because it’s a university series, the Cinematheque is exempt from the Fox rules, and is finishing its 2019 screening with a rare 35mm screening of “Die Hard” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, in the Chazen Museum of Art.

Union South Marquee Theatre — While the student programmers are getting reading for finals, they’ve got a couple of holiday-themed movies planned for this weekend that aren’t playing anywhere else. “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” is playing all weekend, and the 2017 British zombie Christmas musical “Anna and the Apocalypse” plays at 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. That movie has the makings of a new Christmas tradition if I ever heard of one.

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Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.