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."
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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.
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Danny Elfman found writing Nightmare's 10 songs as "one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. I had a lot in common with Jack Skellington."
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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.
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It took a group of around 100 people three years to complete this movie. For one second of film, up to 12 stop-motion moves had to be made.
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Chris Sarandon was cast as Jack Skellington because his speaking voice matched the singing voice of Danny Elfman.
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Patrick Stewart did the original introduction for the movie, which can be heard on the film's soundtrack.
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In the scenes with the street band, especially inside the town hall, there is a small man inside the bass that is based on Danny Elfman.
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Zero's nose is actually a tiny glowing jack-o'-lantern.
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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, much to Selick's regret, to the role being recast.
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Oogie Boogie was originally intended to be Dr. Finklestein in disguise. Reportedly, Tim Burton was so infuriated by this idea that he literally kicked a hole into the wall.
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In the extended ending to the film heard on the soundtrack album, many years later, Santa Claus returns to Halloween Town to visit Jack, and finds that he has about four or five skeleton children.
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The "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" music is heard in The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride at Disneyland California and Disneyland Tokyo as an instrumental version.
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There is something of a controversy over exactly who has the rights to call the story and film their own. Henry Selick is the director and spent more time on the set and production than Tim Burton. However Burton has often claimed he is the owner of the story as it was all his idea. He wrote the original poem and most of the script, created the characters, served as a producer, and even wanted to direct but was simply too busy at the time to do so. Popular culture has long accepted the film as Burton's as the film heading is "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas". Burton does reinforce the fact that Selick directed the film, and is often annoyed that people don't remember him for that. On the direction of the film, Selick reflected, "It's as though he [Burton] laid the egg, and I sat on it and hatched it. He wasn't involved in a hands-on way, but his hand is in it. It was my job to make it look like 'a Tim Burton film', which is not so different from my own films." When asked on Burton's involvement, Selick claimed, "I don't want to take away from Tim, but he was not in San Francisco when we made it. He came up five times over two years, and spent no more than eight or ten days in total." Walt Disney Feature Animation contributed with some use of second-layering traditional animation. Burton found production somewhat difficult because he was directing "Batman Returns" and in pre-production of "Ed Wood."
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The character of Dr. Finklestein is listed only as "Evil Scientist" in the cast credits.
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In 2013, Catherine O'Hara participated in "Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton" to perform "Sally's Song" from this film. She received a standing ovation when she entered the stage, as well as when she left.
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Tim Burton wrote a three-page poem titled The Nightmare Before Christmas when he was a Disney animator in the early-1980s. Burton took inspiration from television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. On the 2008 Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD release, Christopher Lee narrates this poem with a new animated visual accompaniment.
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In the song, "This is Halloween," the lyrics "... tender lumplings everywhere..." refers to "Tender Lumplings," a song done by composer Danny Elfman when he was with Oingo Boingo.
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The teaser trailer tells us that the film was originally intended to be 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 Pictures banner. In October 2006, the film was re-released in 3-D under the Walt Disney Pictures banner.
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Danny Elfman signed on to provide Jack Skellington's singing voice because Chris Sarandon readily stated he was a poor singer.
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In the first few seconds after the title is shown, you can see that there are actually 7 Holiday Doors. Going clockwise, the doors are: A Pumpkin (for Halloween), A decorated Christmas Tree (for Christmas), A turkey (for Thanksgiving), A brightly colored egg (for Easter), a green four leafed clover (for St. Patrick's Day), a red heart (for Valentines Day), and a red and white and blue firework that can only be seen at the very beginning for just a few seconds. This door is assumed to be for American Independence Day.
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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.
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There are three shots in the entire film that were filmed at normal speed (24fps), one is the opening overhead shot of the trees in the forest, the fog coming out of the fountain and the other is the bugs falling into the molten pit in Oogie Boogie's lair.
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Tim Burton and Danny Elfman experienced "creative differences" during filming. For this reason, Burton chose Howard Shore to write the film score of Ed Wood (1994).
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At one point, Tim Burton considered making this a TV special rather than a feature film.
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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.
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This film along with the Live Action/Traditionally Animated Hybrid film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) are the only Films under the Touchstone Pictures label that are considered as Official Disney Films.
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The first Fully Animated Disney Film to not be Traditionally Animated.
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The Christmas tree in Sally's vision that catches fire is the same tree in Jack's house.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios' second film to have a PG rating, the first being The Black Cauldron (1985).
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Since October 2001, a seasonal overlay of the Disneyland Park California and Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion attractions called Haunted Mansion Holiday which combines the characters and setting/theme of the ride with the characters and storyline of this film however in order to achieve this the ride is closed for two and a half weeks in late summer so it can be decorated for Christmas then is reopened before closing again in January to dismantle the ride back to its original format. However the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World in Florida is not rebranded as Haunted Mansion Holiday.
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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 most often credited for turning Walt Disney Studios and its animation division around after joining in 1984.
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Jack rides across the sky under a Christmas Eve full moon. Between the end of World War II and the end of 1993 (year of the film's release) there were only five Christmas Eves with a full moon, or as close to full as no matter: 1950, 1958, 1969, 1977 and 1988.
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Marilyn Manson did a cover of the song "This Is Halloween."
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This is the first stop-motion animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA.
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Behemoth is based on B-movie actor/Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson.
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In the first home Jack visits, there appear to be two commemorative Elvis Presley plates on the living-room wall. This is likely a reference to Presley's 1964 song "Blue Christmas" (and its apropos line "I'll have a blue Christmas without you").
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Originally, a longer version of Jack trying to get to the true meaning of Christmas through science was fully animated. Some of the best gags, including a scene of Jack doing illustrations of Santa and his "monster" form, were cut simply due to time purposes.
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While no sequels have been produced, the worlds and characters are featured in the Disney and Square Enix video game series "Kingdom Hearts," including a boss battle between the game's heroes and Oogie Boogie.
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During the "Making Christmas" song, there was a storyboarded sequence after Mr. Hyde and his two little copies sang, in which Jack inspects more of the citizens' work, followed by the singing of the Man Under the Stairs and the Behemoth. The scene would have revealed that Behemoth has a funny high-pitched singing voice. This was the only bit of the song that was trimmed from both the film and the soundtrack, however it is included among the deleted scenes of the film's DVD.
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In Oogie Boogie's Song, there was a story boarded sequence where bugs came out of Oogie's eye and danced on his arm before he belches them off. It was removed from the film because it was considered difficult to make miniature armatures for all the bugs. Another scrapped scene involved his shadow dancing on a rotating orange background and was traditionally animated but ended up being cut for timing. Despite this, the lyrics during these scenes were included in the film's soundtrack.
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This is the first of Disney's animated films to be scored by Danny Elfman.
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When Mr. Hyde asks Jack if the stocking still had a foot in the Town Meeting Song, two smaller copies appeared from his hat. This was a homage to Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, when the Cat released twenty-six smaller cats (Cats A-Z) to get rid of pink stain from the snow.
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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.
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Tim Burton's 1st Disney movie. His others were Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo.
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Henry Selick and his team of animators began production in July 1991 in San Francisco, California with a crew of over 120 workers, utilizing 20 sound stages for filming. Joe Ranft was hired from Disney as a storyboard supervisor, while Eric Leighton was hired to supervise animation. At the peak of production, 20 individual stages were simultaneously being used for filming. In total, there were 109,440 frames taken for the film. The work of Ray Harryhausen, Ladislas Starevich, Edward Gorey, Étienne Delessert, Gahan Wilson, Charles Addams, Jan Lenica, Francis Bacon, and Wassily Kandinsky influenced the filmmakers. Selick described the production design as akin to a pop-up book. In addition, Selick stated, "When we reach Halloween Town, it's entirely German Expressionism. When Jack enters Christmas Town, it's an outrageous Dr. Seuss-esque setpiece. Finally, when Jack is delivering presents in the 'Real World', everything is plain, simple and perfectly aligned." Vincent Price, Don Ameche, and James Earl Jones were considered to provide the narration for the film's prologue; however, all proved difficult to cast, and the producers instead hired local voice artist, Ed Ivory
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Catherine O'Hara's second time voice acting in a theatrically released animated film after appearing in Rock & Rule (1983). Later she'd go onto voice Tina the Fuzzy Alien Mum in Chicken Little (2005), Penny the Porcupine in Over the Hedge (2006), the protagonist's mother in Monster House (2006), Judith the Wild Thing in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), Mrs. Frankenstein, the Weird Girl and the Gym Teacher in Frankenweenie (2012), and Grandma Frump in The Addams Family (2019).
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This is the only Touchstone's stop-motion animated film.
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This is the first of Disney's stop-motion animated films.
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Jonathan Davis of Korn did a cover in his own metal styling of "Kidnap the Sandy Claws". He did it live via webcam at his own home studio so that the fans could watch it as he produced it.
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The only stop-motion film and only holiday-related film in Disney's animated canon and the second film made by Walt Disney Animation Studios to have a co-production company after The Brave Little Toaster (1987).
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The Italian rock band "Lacuna Coil" used "This is Halloween" as part of the opening to their concert set on their "Comalies" tour.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios' 33rd feature film.
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Walt Disney Amimation Studios' only musical film until Tangled (2010) released 17 years later to earn a PG rating by the MPAA.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios' only film of the Renaissance to earn a PG rating by the MPAA, all the others were rated G by the MPAA, The Black Cauldron (1985) was previously in the Dark Age and all films starting with Dinosaur (2000) will all be in the Post-Renaissance, the Revival Era, and the Post-Revival Era.
Jack's first visit to Christmas Town in the song, "What's This?" Among other things, we see him unintentionally smashing a snowflake, destroying a snowman and scaring a little sleeping elf - a taste of the unwitting destruction that Jack's curiosity in Christmas will bring.
There's Sally's premonition with the burning Christmas tree, foreshadowing what transpires later.
During the Town Hall meeting in which Jack reveals the inhabitants of Halloween Town what Christmas is, the Mayor says cheerfully, "How horrible our Christmas will be!"
When he's trying to understand Christmas scientifically, he attempts to cut a paper snowflake and finds that he's made a spider. The rest of the same scene, his attempts to understand the paraphernalia of Christmas only result in the items of his experiments being destroyed. "Jack's Obsession" also ends with him smashing several Christmas ornaments, and causing a string of lights to explode.
"This is Halloween" has the "shadow of the moon at night" taking the form of Oogie Boogie. This is later confirmed to be his shadow in Oogie's Revenge. Also, if you listen closely to the instrumental part when the Shadow sings, it almost sounds like the opening to Oogie Boogie's Song.
A shadow looks like Skeleton Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas,
Marilyn Manson made his cover of "This is Halloween" in 2006 for the film's special edition release of the film's soundtrack. Panic! at the Disco also made their cover in the 2006 reissue.
Walt Disney Animation Studios' first film to be composed by Danny Elfman, who eventually became a recurring composer after Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace, Edward H. Plumb, Charles Wolcott, Eliot Daniel, George Bruns, Buddy Baker, and Alan Menken.
Some of the presents Jack delivers to the kids are nods to Tim Burton films. The snake looks like a Sandworm from Beetlejuice (1988), and the shrunken head is from the afterlife waiting room in the same film. The Cat and Duck are both featured in Batman Returns (1992) - the Cat as the mascot for Shreck's department store, the duck resembling a vehicle driven by the Penguin.
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In a test shot, in the end where the vampires played hockey on the frozen lake, they used a head that resembled the head of the film's creator and producer Tim Burton. However, it was changed in the last moment where in the final film, the head was replaced with a jack o' lantern.
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The only human adult faces shown are Santa Claus, a police officer, and a woman reading a book to elves in Christmas town, all others are only shown from the neck down.
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