Nightmare Before Christmas Production Facts

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We might have distant memories of when the film wasn’t advertised as a Disney, but there’s even more neat stuff about the film. Are you familiar with these The Nightmare Before Christmas production facts?

The Nightmare Before Christmas Production Facts You (Probably) Didn’t Know

Do you love this Tim Burton movie? Take a look at what went into making one of the most popular cult classic films Disney has released.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was actually initially planned for a 30 minute made-for-TV special.

Back in 1982 Tim Burton wrote a 3 paged poem entitled “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. He drew inspiration from other made-for-TV holiday specials. At the time, he was employed by Walt Disney Feature Animation. They began collaborating on the idea of turning it into a small film. The project was eventually stalled due to being “too weird”. Tim Burton was let go from Disney in 1984 seeming to guarantee the project would never continue. It wasn’t until 1990 he was able to make a developmental deal with Disney.

The inspiration came from store holiday decorations.

According to the DVD commentary, Tim Burton got the inspiration for the film because living in California the seasons were not marked by outdoor changes but rather what displays were in the stores. In an effort to capitalize on both retailers ended up (and still have) overlap between Halloween and Christmas.

Shooting actually started beforeThe Nightmare Before Christmas was completely written.

Stop motion takes a notoriously long time especially when dealing with a full length film. Over 120 workers captured 109,440 frames to create the 76 minute film. It took about 3 years to complete. Danny Elfman also composed most of the music without a script, instead asking Tim Burton to describe the scene. He said it was easy to write the 11 songs used in the movie.

The Movie wasn’t originally released under Walt Disney Pictures.

As a child, I just thought it was a great movie. I had no idea it was made by Disney! This was due to the initial release being under the Touchstone Pictures banner. They felt the movie would be “too dark and scary for kids”. It didn’t get reissued, and subsequently re-released, under the Disney banner until 2006.


Despite it being labeled “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas”, Tim Burton didn’t actually make the movie.

Henry Selick directed the film and Burton produced it. According to Selick: Burton laid the egg and Selick sat on it to hatch. He was tasked with making a movie that looked like a Tim Burton film despite Burton only being there a few times a year during production. Caroline Thompson is also credited with the screenplay, but again Selick did most of the work. He stated: “there are very few lines of dialogue that are Caroline’s. She became busy on other films and we were constantly rewriting, re-configuring and developing the film visually.”

So there you go! Who knew that Tim Burton has such a small hand in one of his most famous movies and that Disney tried to keep this cult classic (and modern money maker) so well hidden.

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