Home Alone 3, as originally conceived, was supposed to be filmed simultaneously with Home Alone 2, but when that was scrapped, another version was pitched that would bring back the franchise’s main character, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) as a teenager. Culkin, however, quit acting, so for the third movie in the series, the studio decided to essentially reboot. New kid, new family, but a situation similar to that in the original film, only the stakes were substantially higher. The lead, Alex Pruitt, was left home alone and had to defend himself and his home against a North Korean terrorist group who wanted a microchip inside of a remote control car that had come into Alex’s possession.
Not only did Culkin not return for the third film, neither did the director of the first two films, Chris Columbus, or John Williams, who wrote the score. Columbus was replaced by the editor on the first two films, Raja Gosnell (Big Momma’s House, Scooby-Doo, Beverly Hills Chihuahua), and the results were about what you might expect: It was a critical failure, scoring only 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it did muster $80 million at the box-office (enough to keep the series alive for a made-for-TV Home Alone 4, and it even gained some support from Roger Ebert, who was in the minority among critics who thought the third film was better than the first two.
Eight-year-old Alex D. Linz replaced Culkin in the series. Even at a young age, he’d already built a steady career, appearing in a soap opera and as the son of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in the 1996 film One Fine Day along with a very young Mae Whitman (Arrested Development).