(Image c/o Walt Disney Studios)
By Madison Sciba
On October 13, 1993, Jack Skellington made his first appearance on the big screen. Now, thirty years later, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a cult classic. What people may not know is that Tim Burton did not direct the classic Halloween film. According to the Netflix docuseries, The Movies that Made Us, Burton was too busy filming Batman Returns to direct The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although the film was directed by Henry Selick, it was the brainchild of the infamously creepy and weird director, Burton, while he was still an animator at Walt Disney Studios. However, Burton was one of the producers and kept a firm hand on how the film was being made.
Initially, the film was not a success and it wasn’t until after a few years the film found its popularity. At first Disney chose not to put their name on the film but rather that of Touchstone Pictures, one of their adult-centered production companies. The Nightmare Before Christmas was rated PG which was a big deal for Disney who was churning out G rated movies at this time such as Aladdin.
Made entirely in stop motion, The Nightmare Before Christmas was the first full length stop motion feature film. It set a precedent and began a trend of creepy stop motion films hitting theaters. Films like 2005’s Corpse Bride and 2012’s Frankenweenie followed in The Nightmare Before Christmas’s footsteps and both films were nominated for Academy Awards.
Now, thirty years after the world was first introduced to The Pumpkin King who wanted to become Santa Claus, Disney is still profiting highly off a film that they thought was going to be too creepy for their brand. Every September and October, Disneyland hosts the Oogie Boogie Bash, a Halloween party based on the villain from The Nightmare Before Christmas. So every year, Disney fans from around the world flock to Disneyland to celebrate the spooky holiday with the characters that Tim Burton drew almost forty years ago while he was a lowly animation apprentice at Disney Studios.
Madison Sciba '24,