18 things you didn't know about 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

DisneyThis Disney classic is over 25 years old.
  • “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) is over two decades old and it’s widely considered to be a Halloween movie (even the film’s director agrees).
  • The film’s songs were written before its script was.
  • The movie was supposed to have a different ending that involved a surprise villain reveal.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) is one of the most iconic Halloween movies of all time that’s also popular in December.

The beloved animated feature is over 25 years old, but there’s a lot you still may not know about it.

Here are some surprising things you never knew about “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”


The movie was based on a poem.

Buena Vista ProductionsTim Burton wrote the 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.”


In the original poem, there were only three characters.

YouTubeOne of them was Santa Claus.

Despite the colourful cast of characters in the film, Burton’s original poem only featured three characters: Jack Skellington, Zero, and Santa Claus.


Tim Burton was the producer, not the director.

YouTubeTim Burton didn’t direct the film.

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.


Oogie Boogie was the toughest character to design.

DisneyIt’s partly because of his size.

Oogie Boogie was the toughest because he’s big and pretty shapeless,” Director Henry Selick told the Daily Beast in 2017.

“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,” he added.


The film’s songs were written before a script was.

YouTubeThey were written based on a description of the movie’s plot.

Composer 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.”


Elfman was the voice behind Skellington’s singing in the film.

YouTubeThe composer wasn’t Skellington’s non-singing voice, though.

Although he wasn’t the speaking voice of the Pumpkin King, Elfman did sing all of Skellington’s parts in the film.


Elfman voiced two characters in the film.

YouTubeElfman had a part of playing three characters.

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.”


“The Nightmare Before Christmas” took about three years to make.

YouTubeOne minute of filming took a week.

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.


Jack Skellington seemingly appeared in “Beetlejuice.”

YouTubeYou have to look really closely.

Skellington’s first feature film appearance wasn’t the movie based on his story, but rather the 1988 flick “Beetlejuice,” another of Burton’s creations.


Jack Skellington also seemingly makes a cameo in “James and the Giant Peach.”

YouTubeIt looks just like him.

In another Burton-Selick film, the famed Jack Skellington’s likeness makes a cameo in the haunted shipwreck scene in 1996’s “James and the Giant Peach.”


Skellington also makes a cameo in other popular films.

YouTubeYou might’ve seen him in ‘Coraline.’

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.

YouTubeThe suits were changed to make them pop on the black backdrop.

It is revealed in the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD’s commentary track that 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 supposed to have a different ending.

YouTubeThe reveal of Oogie Boogie was changed prior to production.

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.


There will (probably) never be a sequel.

YouTubeBurton is against 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 in 2006, “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 reportedly once going to be a “The Nightmare Before Christmas” ride.

Getty Images/Allan Grant/The LIFE Picture Collection/TASCHENBurton nixed it.

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.


An extended ending of the flick showed Jack as a father.

YouTubeThe soundtrack points to the pumpkin king 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.

YouTubeBurton fought for Skellington to have no 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.”


Lastly, is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a Halloween or Christmas movie?

YouTubeThe director takes the stance that it is a Halloween film.

During a Q&A about the film at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show film festival, director Henry Selick said “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is indeed 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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