It was an occasion of such significance that there were reverential features about the screening on both Swap Shop and Nationwide, to prepare the nation for a post-turkey film feast.
You wouldn't get that now. Sure, the channels still big up their movie premieres - this year BBC1 is showing Shrek The Third, Wall-E and the latest Indiana Jones - but it's hard to imagine anyone getting really excited. After all, if someone missed them in the cinema, they could have rented or bought the DVDs or seen them on a premium movie channel long before. In fact, they're probably watching a more recent DVD that arrived in their Christmas stocking instead.
And that's why the time when TV put film premieres at the centre of their holiday programming has passed: for most people, it's simply either a repeat experience or a chance to see something that they clearly weren't that bothered about anyway.
It's far more exciting to see the new Doctor Who or find out which soap characters are being murdered, married or both.
Still, there is a place for film repeats: for those who can't face the relentless barrage of festive-flavoured programming, there are usually some classic cinema gems tucked away. This time, Film4 offers Casablanca on Christmas Day afternoon. Play it again, Santa.