“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is one of the most iconic Halloween … or Christmas movies of all time.
This year, the beloved animated feature turns 25, and to celebrate, INSIDER dug up some of the spookiest facts about “The Nightmare Before Christmas” that will send shivers down your spine. For those brave enough, continue reading for some grave-turning facts about one of Disney’s darkest films.
The movie was based on a poem.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” was based on a poem written by Tim Burton when he was an animator for Disney.
When asked where the idea of the film came from, director Henry Selik told the Daily Beast, “Tim rewrote the classic poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ along with designs for Jack Skellington, his dog, Zero, and Santa Claus.”
The poem was inspired by holiday decorations.
Written in 1982, Burton said in the film’s commentary that “The Nightmare Before Christmas” poem was inspired by the changing of Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations.
Oogie Boogie was the toughest character to design.
“Oogie Boogie was the toughest because he’s big and pretty shapeless. Ultimately, Rick Heinrichs had to re-sculpt it, and then, when he gets his skin pulled off and he’s filled with bugs, that took some years off a few animators’ lives-it’s three or four killer shots and took about four months,” Henry Selick told the Daily Beast.
There were over 400 Jack Skellington heads made.
The sculpting team behind the famous animated characters took the time to create about 400 heads with various emotions for Jack Skellington, according to Michael A. Morrison’s “Trajectories of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Fourteenth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.”
Tim Burton was the producer, not the director.
Although his name is above the title, Burton was not the director of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Instead, Henry Selick made his directorial debut with the animated Disney film.
In the original poem, there were only three characters.
Despite the colourful cast of characters in the film, Burton’s original poem only featured three characters: Jack Skellington, Zero, and Santa Claus.
The film’s songs were written first.
Danny Elfman wrote the songs for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” before there was a script to go off of.
He wrote the iconic songs after Burton described bits and pieces of the story to him.
Eflman told the LA Times, “Tim would show me sketches and drawings, and he would tell me the story, describe it in bits of phrases and words and I would say, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ Three days later, I had a song.”
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” took about three years to make.
Because the film was stop-motion, it took animators about three years to complete the film.
“I was on the film for three-and-a-half years. The stop-motion animation took about 18 months, but with pre-production, where you storyboarded every single shot, it did add up. At its peak, it was about 120 people working on it, and we had between 12-17 animators on the job. It’s an insane way to make a movie, but a lot of fun,” director Henry Selick told the Daily Beast.
Elfman was the voice behind Skellington’s singing in the film.
Jack Skellington appeared in “Beetlejuice.”
Jack Skellington makes a cameo in “James and the Giant Peach.”
In another Burton-Selick film, the famed Jack Skellington makes a cameo in the haunted shipwreck scene in “James and the Giant Peach.”
Skellington also makes a cameo in other popular films.
Skellington’s character or likeness has been spotted in “Coraline,” “Princess and the Frog,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Finding Nemo,” and even “Sleepy Hollow,” reported PopBuzz.
The Pumpkin King’s suit was originally black.
It is revealed in the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD’s commentary track that Director Selick was the reason Jack’s signature suit was adorned with thin white pinstripes.
The decision was made in order to have the character stand out on an already dark coloured set.
The film was released under Touchstone Pictures.
Now, Disney fully embraces the twisted Burton film, decorating their parks with Skellington decorations each Halloween.
Sir Patrick Stewart’s voice was supposed to be in the film.
The original ending of the film was not the same.
It was initially proposed that Oogie Boogie would be revealed to be Doctor Finklestein in disguise at the end of the film, but this was changed prior to production.
Danny Elfman has a favourite line in the film.
In a 2010 interview with Interview magazine, Danny Elfman said, “For the record, my favourite lyric line is ‘Perhaps it’s the head that I found in the lake,’ from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.'” Directed at Burton, he added, “It’s your line, not mine.”
There are at least two Hidden Mickeys in the film.
Fans on FindMickey, have spotted at least two Hidden Mickeys in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” but another popular character also makes an appearance: Donald Duck.
There will (probably) never be a sequel.
Seeing as Burton owns part of the character rights to “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” he has been staunchly against creating a sequel of the film.
Burton told MTV, “I was always very protective of [‘Nightmare’], not to do sequels or things of that kind. You know, ‘Jack visits Thanksgiving world’ or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it.”
There was going to be a “The Nightmare Before Christmas” ride.
According to Slashfilm, Disney wanted to create a ride dedicated to the film and even created sketches of what it would look like, but it never came to be. So, for now, fans can enjoy Halloween Town when The Haunted Mansion is transformed each Halloween season.
Fans think the film characters represent how they died.
One Redditor, theknightinthetardis, linked on Reddit to a Tumblr post that proposes that the characters in Halloween Town represent different aspects of how they died. For example, believe Jack was burned alive, Doctor Finklestein was poisoned, and Zero the dog was electrocuted.
An extended ending showed Jack as a father.
The official soundtrack for the film has an epilogue that has Santa Claus returning to visit Jack years later and finding that the Pumpkin King has become a father.
Jack Skellington was never meant to have eyes.
Despite pushback from Disney, Burton and Selick fought against animating Jack Skellington with eyes.
According to Mouseplanet, Burton said, “The first rule of drawn animation is that you have to have eyes for expression. I thought it would be great to give life to these characters that have no eyes. Disney really fought for us to give Jack these friendly eyes instead of dark holes but we wouldn’t budge.”
Elfman voiced two characters in the film.
In addition to acting as Skellington’s singing voice, Elfman provided the voices of Barrel and the Clown with the Tear Away Face in “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Lastly, is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a Halloween or Christmas movie?
During a Q&A about the film at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show film festival, director Henry Selick said the film is a Halloween film. But, that doesn’t stop anyone from enjoying the movie 365 days a year, regardless of upcoming holidays.
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