As the nights draw near and the air gains a chill, it’s the perfect time to settle down and watch movies. But do we celebrate Christmas, or do we prepare for Halloween? If you’re a holiday fiend such as myself, you may settle for The Nightmare Before Christmas as the perfect blend of every holiday celebration. But have you ever wondered about the origins and concepts behind The Nightmare before Christmas? If so, then look no further, as this article aims to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of this iconic movie.
What is Nightmare Before Christmas?
If you haven’t heard of this film, then let’s explain it to you (without spoilers of course!). It centers around the misadventures of Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloweentown. The annual celebration of Halloween brings the town together, however, Jack grows tired of the same celebrations each year, scaring others. It all changes when Jack accidentally stumbles across Christmastown – it’s bright, it’s covered in snow, and it’s full of lights. It’s entirely different to Halloweentown. To take control of this place, Jack hatches a plan to kidnap Santa Claus and be the new face of Christmas. However, his plan is far from perfect.
The Nightmare Before Christmas was first released in 1993. It’s one of Tim Burton’s most famous films, with the voice talents of Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, and Catherine O’Hara.
It has been nominated for many awards including the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The Nightmare Before Christmas went on to win the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film, while Elfman won best music.
Where Did The Idea Come From?
Tim Burton’s idea for The Nightmare Before Christmas actually came from a poem he wrote. Burton wrote this poem while he was working as an animator for Disney. Having found matching Disney’s aesthetic to be difficult, Burton never tried to bring this idea to life. It wasn’t until he left, and continued keeping in contact with fellow animator Henry Selick, did this idea come to life. The two shared the bond of feeling unable to fit in with their styles. The two started coming together to direct a feature length focused on the poem, which caught the attention of Beetlejuice co-writer Michael McDowell.
Disney offered to help develop the film, but because of it’s darker nature in comparison as to what they usually produced, they remained distant from it. However, keen eyes can still spot homage to Mickey Mouse in some of the scenes. The film was instead published under the name of Touchstone Pictures, which was what Disney used to stop anything from harming their child friendly brand.
How Was The Nightmare Before Christmas Produced?
Being a stop motion animation, the project was very ambitious. Made of clay and shot at 24 frames per second, the film took more than three years to complete. Minutes worth of the film would actually have taken weeks to record – which goes to show how ambitious of a project this was. The attention of detail has inspired other films such as Coraline or Kubo And The Two Strings, as both these films use similar practice. The difference is, because of how big of a project it was, they started filming without a completed script. This was the only way they could ensure The Nightmare Before Christmas would be finished in time.
Many models, especially Jack Skellington, had interchangeable heads on hand to help change between emotions. However, this wasn’t just a flat face to a smile – we have to keep in mind the changes of the open mouth, and how every frame was likely a completely different head.
Will There Ever Be A Sequel?
While Disney were keen for there to be a sequel of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton refused. His argument was that the magic and “purity” of the film would be lost should Jack then try to go on and control other holidays, such as Thanksgiving. Another reason behind the idea of a sequel being crushed was due to the introduction of CGI. Stop motion, while beautiful, is incredibly time consuming. They thought that using CGI would ultimately make production a lot shorter. Both directors disagreed with the idea of CGI.
This wasn’t the end however. There has since been a 2000s game called “Oogie’s Revenge”, released by Capcom. It follows some other leads from the film, holds potential spoilers. There was talk in 2019 about a possible sequel, or live action remake, but there is currently no further news. Most recently, in 2021, a young adult novel was released called “Long Live the Pumpkin Queen”. This retells the story of The Nightmare Before Christmas and beyond through the perspective of Sally.
Hopefully this article has given you further insight into the world of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Are you a fan of this franchise? Or do you may know anything else about the movie that he haven’t included? Let us know in the comments!