According to Henry Selick, Vincent Price was originally cast as Santa Claus. However, after the death of Price's wife, his own health began to fail and his voice performance was very frail and weak. The tracks were deemed unusable which led to, much to Selick's regret, the role being recast.
Tim Burton had hoped to direct, but placed Henry Selick in the director's chair instead as Burton was busy working on Batman Returns (1992) and had Ed Wood (1994) in pre-production. Selick estimates that Burton was present 8 to 10 days total during production.
It is stated in "The Making of..." book that the most difficult shot to film in the entire movie is the shot in which Jack is reaching for the doorknob to Christmasland. Viewers can see the perfect surround reflection of the forest around Jack in the background.
There are only two shots in the entire film that were filmed at normal speed (24fps), one is the opening overhead shot of the trees in the forest and the other is the bugs falling into the molten pit in Oogie Boogie's lair.
Tim Burton has said the original poem was inspired after seeing Halloween merchandise display in a store being taken down and replaced by a Christmas display. The juxtaposition of ghouls and goblins with Santa and his reindeer sparked his imagination.
Two items were invented to facilitate the filming of the movie: One was a "light alarm" which would warn the animators if any of the stage lights failed to come on. The other was a system that enabled a puppeteer to seamlessly switch to a replacement puppet if a puppet broke during a shot. Prior to this, either situation, a light failing to come on or a puppet breaking would destroy a shot.
A crossed-out calculation on Jack's blackboard seems to equate 3 times the square of pi multiplied by 12 to Christmas Day (a Santa hat). The true numerical answer is approximately 355.31. If the decimal portion is dropped, this then equates to December 21st, the 355th day of the year--hence the crossed-out equation. December 21st however is the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere (winter solstice). It is also the birthday of Jeffrey Katzenberg, the film's executive producer and the one most responsible for turning Walt Disney Studios and its animation division around after joining in 1984.
The teaser trailer tells us that the film was originally intended to by released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner, playing the movie heavily as the next generation of filmmaking following in the proud tradition of Walt Disney. By the time the theatrical trailer was released, the release label had changed to Touchstone Pictures, an alternate designation of the Walt Disney Studios. Michael Eisner, the then CEO and Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, found the film to be 'too dark for kids' and had it moved to their Touchstone Picture banner. In October 2006, the film was re-released in 3-D under the Walt Disney Pictures banner.
In 2001, Walt Disney Pictures began to consider producing a sequel, but rather than using stop motion, Disney wanted to use computer animation. Tim Burton convinced Disney to drop the idea. "I was always very protective of [Nightmare] not to do sequels or things of that kind," Burton explained. "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," Burton said.
Since 2001, a seasonal overlay of the Disneyland Park California and Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion attractions called Haunted Mansion Holiday combines the characters and setting/theme of the ride with the characters and storyline of this film.
The half-obscured gatekeeper in bowler hat seen in the musical opening appears to have the head of an ibis. This might be a reference to the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth. Though Thoth was anything but a gatekeeper, he was considered a deification of the moon, and controlled his own domain in the underworld.
In the original poem written by Tim Burton, the only characters that existed were Jack, Zero and Santa. All the other characters were made up for the movies, although he describes some of the presents which were given out, including in some cases the names of the children.