The Nutcracker in 3D
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrei Konchalovsky
Screenplay by
  • Andrei Konchalovsky
  • Chris Solimine
Based onThe Nutcracker
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"
by E. T. A. Hoffmann
(both uncredited)
Produced by
  • Andrei Konchalovsky
  • Paul Lowin
CinematographyMike Southon
Edited by
  • Mathieu Bélanger
  • Andrew Glen
Music by
  • Vnesheconombank
  • Noisette Film Productions
  • HCC Media Group
  • Russian Roulette Ltd.
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 24 November 2010 (2010-11-24) (Canada/U.S.)
  • 8 December 2011 (2011-12-08) (Hungary)
  • 28 December 2012 (2012-12-28) (U.K.)
Running time
110 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • Russia[1]
  • Hungary
Budget$90 million[2]
Box office$20.5 million[3]

The Nutcracker in 3D[4] (also released as The Nutcracker: The Untold Story) is a 2010 3D Christmas musical fantasy film adapted from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet The Nutcracker. Directed, co-written and produced by Andrei Konchalovsky, the film stars Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, John Turturro, Frances de la Tour, Richard E. Grant and Yulia Vysotskaya, with Charlie Rowe and Shirley Henderson as the Nutcracker. Set in 1920s Vienna, the plot follows a young girl who receives a magical doll that is revealed to be a prince and embarks on an adventure to save his kingdom from the Rat King.

An international co-production of the United Kingdom, Russia and Hungary, the film was panned by critics upon release, and was criticised for its story, deviations from the ballet, performances, twisted visuals, the decision to adapt Tchaikovsky's score into lyrical musical numbers, and allusions to World War II, Nazism and the Holocaust. It underperformed at the box-office, grossing $20 million against a $90 million budget.[3]


In 1920s Vienna during the Christmas season, Mary lives with her parents Joseph and Louise, and younger brother Max. She is upset that her parents are attending a party that night, as she wants the whole family to be together for Christmas. Uncle Albert arrives and gifts both her and Max a dollhouse and a nutcracker doll nicknamed NC, whom Mary immediately takes a liking to. That night, NC comes to life in front of Mary and grows to human height. He tells her that he must talk to his friends in the dollhouse, which is in the sitting room by the Christmas tree. They go downstairs and Mary finds that the sitting room has grown to an enormous size so that they appear to be the height of toys. In the dollhouse, Mary meets NC's friends; Gielgud, a gentlemanly chimpanzee; Tinker, a pernickety opera singer; and Sticks, a drummer boy.

After climbing the Christmas tree, Mary meets the Snow Fairy, who resembles her mother. The Snow Fairy tells Mary that NC is in fact a prince who had his kingdom taken over by the anthropomorphic Rat King and his cruel mother, The Rat Queen, who was also the one that turned him into a nutcracker. She manages to temporarily turn him back into a boy due to Mary's belief and the two briefly dance before finding his city. Since NC was turned into a nutcracker, the Rat King has been oppressing his people, and forcing them to work in factories where the children's toys are burnt to form dark clouds over the city to block out sunlight, which he is afraid of. Mary suggests that they destroy the factories to scare him away. Unbeknownst to them, two of the Rat King's spies report back to tell the Rat King that NC is alive and a boy again. The Rat Queen turns NC back into a nutcracker, then sends the Rat Dogs, a pack of robotic Rottweilers, to cut down the Christmas tree. When the tree falls, Mary suddenly wakes up in her own bed and runs downstairs to get NC. Her parents do not believe her when she tells them the events of the night.

The next evening, NC comes to life again and tells Mary that he intends to round up an army to fight against the Rat King. Max wakes up and agrees to join the fight with them. NC goes downstairs ahead of them to gather his friends but is kidnapped. When Mary and Max go downstairs, they find that NC, Tinker and Sticks are being held captive in the fireplace by the Rat King and his minions, who kidnap the toys and lure Max back to the city. Mary discovers Gielgud, who evaded capture, and they find a portal to the city in the house's attic, and after stealing disguises from a rat, search for their friends. They find the Rat King and Max in the city centre where toys are being taken from children to be burned. Horrified, Max asks to be returned home, but the Rat King imprisons him in his castle. They sneak into one of the smoke factories where they find Sticks, Tinker and an apparently lifeless NC.

Mary rescues NC from being burned and tells him that she loves him, which breaks the curse, restoring his life and into being a boy permanently. The factory workers, seeing their prince alive, begin to fight back against the rats while Mary and NC attempt to shut down the factory. The Rat King and Queen board a helicopter, kidnapping Mary and Max. Gielgud and NC take chase and fight the King while Max successfully lands the aircraft in a pile of toys. The King and Queen revert to their original rat forms and flee into the sewers. NC is crowned king and peace is restored in the kingdom as everyone celebrates. The Snow Fairy reappears and tells Mary it is time for her to return home, though she is reluctant to leave. Before she departs, NC promises that they will meet again.

Mary wakes in her room, where her parents apologise for their earlier criticisms and promise to spend more time with her. She goes downstairs to Uncle Albert, who introduces her to his new neighbour: a boy her age, who resembles the Nutcracker Prince and asks to be called NC. They become friends and go ice-skating together.




Director Konchalovsky stated that the film had been his "dream project" for over twenty years.[5] He was inspired to adapt it into 3D for several reasons; he believed that the format would be useful in conveying the fantastical nature of the material, capturing the emotions of CGI characters, and appealing to a family audience.[6] At the same time, he opted to adapt it with no ballet sequences because, according to him, "ballet cannot work in cinema very well."[6]

Konchalovsky gave the villainous rats Nazi-like qualities in his production, one of many elements in the adaptation which alienated both critics and audiences.[7]


A 2022 article in Meduza[1] reported that the film was primarily financed by VEB.RF, a Russian state development corporation chaired by Vladimir Putin, and that it was the most expensive Russian film produced to date.[1][8]

In December 2020, VEB filed a lawsuit against the producers for unpaid loans, totaling USD$127.8 million, claiming they had withheld proceeds from ticket sales.[1]


The film was announced at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and principal photography took place primarily in Budapest, Hungary that summer, before the set was moved to the Stern Film Studio in Pomáz.[9][better source needed]


The film's score is derived from Tchaikovsky's original music for The Nutcracker, the ballet version of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story, and lyricist Tim Rice wrote lyrics for it. Many of the songs are based on the ballet's dances. Others are based on Tchaikovsky's other compositions, such as his Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 6.[6] Perhaps due to the film's failure, a soundtrack album was never released.

  1. "It's All Relative" — Nathan Lane with Elle Fanning and Aaron Michael Drozin
  2. "The Song of the Snow Fairy" — Yuliya Vysotskaya
  3. "The Rat King's Song" — John Turturro
  4. "My Secret World" — Fanning
  5. "Story of a Boy" — Lane
  6. "Ratification" — Turturro and Chorus
  7. "You Gotta Hang Loose and Catch the Show" — Africa Nile and Hugh Sachs
  8. "Life Begins Again" — Charlie Rowe and Chorus


The film was first screened at the European Film Market on 5 February 2009. It was released in Hungary on 8 December 2012 and United Kingdom on 28 December 2012.[10][better source needed]

Box office

The film brought in a total of $20,466,016 worldwide (over half of which came from Russia),[3] with a loss of $73,821,041.[11]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rare approval rating of 0% – out of 32 reviews – with an average rating of 2.96/10. The site's consensus reads: "Misguided, misconceived, and misbegotten on every level, The Nutcracker in 3D is a stunning exercise in astonishing cinematic wrong-headedness."[12] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 18 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[13] Metacritic later ranked it the "Worst Limited Release" film of 2010.[14]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one out of four stars and asked, "From what dark night of the soul emerged the wretched idea for The Nutcracker in 3D?". Ebert went on to claim it as "One of those rare holiday movies that may send children screaming under their seats."[15] Claudia Puig of USA Today accused the film of being "contrived, convoluted, amateurish and tedious," and panned it for lacking any trace of ballet, unlike several previous versions of The Nutcracker.[16] Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "With the chief villain and his goose-stepping minions bearing no small resemblance to Nazis, the ensuing plot developments are uncomfortable to the extreme. One can imagine the unease of parents escorting their tykes to what they imagine to be a holiday treat, only to find them exposed to images- including the burning of toys into ashes- that are often arresting but seemingly straight out of Schindler's List."[17]

Entertainment Weekly reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it its only positive review from a professional film critic, awarding it a B+ and remarking "Attention, university film clubs: Here's your cult-ready midnight-movie programming."[18]


Award Category Recipients Result
Metacritic's Best and Worst Films of 2010
Worst Limited Release Film of 2010 The Nutcracker in 3D Won
Worst Eye Gouging Misuse of 3D Nominated
Best Young Actress Elle Fanning Nominated

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "'Gnarled and stunted and wrong' How a renowned film director sunk over $100 million in government loans on a bizarre box office flop". Meduza. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  2. ^ "The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)". The Numbers. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ Russian: Щелкунчик и Крысиный Король, romanizedShchelkunchik i Krysinyy Korol', lit.'The Nutcracker and the Rat King'
  5. ^ "Seattle: The Nutcracker in 3D". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "EXCLUSIVE: Andrei Konchalovsky Talks The Nutcracker in 3D". Movieweb. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  7. ^ Самый дорогой российский фильм провалился в прокате
  8. ^ "ВЕДОМОСТИ - Внешэкономбанк и крысиный король". 2 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  9. ^ "Filming locations". Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  10. ^ "The Nutcracker in 3D Release Info". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  11. ^ Андрей Кончаловский о своем новом фильме-сказке
  12. ^ "The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  13. ^ "The Nutcracker in 3D". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  14. ^ "The Best and Worst Movies of 2010". CBS Interactive. 7 January 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  15. ^ Roger Ebert (23 November 2010). "The Nutcracker in 3D". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  16. ^ "'Nutcracker in 3D' is not at all relative". USA Today. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  17. ^ T. H. R. Staff (3 December 2010). "The Nutcracker in 3D — Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  18. ^ Lisa Schwarzbaum (23 November 2010). "The Nutcracker in 3D". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2019.