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‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Just Turned 30! Here, 10 Wacky Must-Read Secrets

Find out how many puppets they used for production and what famous character made a cameo!

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! No, wait. What’s this? It’s Christmas! Well, when it comes to the beloved 1993 classic The Nightmare Before Christmas – which turns 30 this year – it’s both holidays. The stop-motion animated movie created and produced by imaginative genius Tim Burton is a hybrid of both very different holidays, resulting in hilarity when the two worlds collide thanks to Pumpkin King Jack Skellington’s meddling, maniacal ways: He finds himself in a forest with trees for each holiday, falls down a trunk hole into Christmas Town, and decides to hijack Christmas and bring it to his Halloween Town.

Being a blend of October and December holidays, fans often pick one of the two as the time of year they watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. Other fans have made the Burton movie an annual November ritual, as a bridge between the spooky and jolly seasons.

Many people might be surprised to learn that there was talk about a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas – a rumor that started in 2001, when Disney was reportedly exploring the idea of making a sequel using CGI instead of the stop-motion animation, but Burton wouldn’t have it. That old-fashioned animation definitely is a big part of the movie’s charm. Then, in 2009, Nightmare director Henry Selick said he would do a part two if he and Burton came up with a good idea. In a November interview with Empire, Burton remained adamant that a sequel isn’t happening.

“I feel like that old guy who owns a little piece of property and won’t sell to the big power plant that wants to take my land,” Burton said.

Jack Skellington next to a Christmas tree
Jack Skellington in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) Burton Productions

As much as we may love the original Nightmare, we agree that a sequel probably wouldn’t work. After all, Jack Skellington already hijacked Christmas and made a disaster out of it. He has definitely learned his lesson, after almost getting his counterfeit sleigh blown out of the sky by the military. What would he do next? Kidnap the Easter Bunny again — a brief accident in the movie — and go all out in poisoning Easter Town with rotten Halloween eggs? Nah.

The scriptwriters would have to come up with something totally different, and it’s hard to say how this story could continue. Maybe level-headed Sally, now Jack’s doll wife, could unsuccessfully try to talk him off the ledge when he gets some other hare-brained idea. Or maybe green monster Oogie Boogie could have his turn and crash a 4th of July parade.

Regardless, Nightmare is just fine as a one-hit wonder, and fans will continue to enjoy this delight at whichever time they prefer during the last quarter of the year.

To celebrate three decades of the dark and delightful weirdness of this Burton masterpiece, check out these The Nightmare Before Christmas facts.

1. The movie is based on a poem that Burton wrote while he was an animator for Disney

Many fans of the film most likely don’t know these The Nightmare Before Christmas facts. As director Selick said: “Tim rewrote the classic poem T’was the Night Before Christmas, along with designs for Jack Skellington, his dog, Zero, and Santa Claus.” And although the movie had a large cast of characters, Burton’s original poem only had three: Jack Skellington, ghost dog, Zero, and Santa Claus.

2. People often mistakenly think Burton directed the movie

Henry Selick and Tim Burton shooting “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
Henry Selick and Tim Burton (1993) Burton Productions

To clarify, Burton is the producer and creator of the story; but, he tapped his former Disney animation colleague, Henry Selick, to direct the film. It was Selick’s directorial debut.

3. Composer/singer/songwriter Danny Elfman wrote the soundtrack songs to the movie before there was a script

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman in recording studio
Tim Burton and Danny Elfman (1993) Burton Productions

And what a soundtrack – that staccato intensity of “This is Halloween” makes it a fun CD to keep in the car for driving around. In 2015, Elfman told the Los Angeles Times: “Tim would show me sketches and drawings, and he would tell me the story, describe it in bits of phrases or words and I would say, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ Three days later, I had a song.”

4. Actor Chris Sarandon voiced Jack Skellington in speaking parts

Chris Sarandon, 2023
Chris Sarandon, 2023Paul Warner / Contributor

But composer Elfman sang Jack’s singing parts in songs like “What’s This?” Elfman also voiced Barrel and the clown with a tearaway face.

5. Actress Catherine O’Hara, who voiced Sally and Shock, had worked with Burton on Beetlejuice before Nightmare.

Catherine O’Hara/Sally Nightmare Before Christmas Facts
Catherine O’Hara as Sally (1993) Burton Productions

Catherine O’Hara, known most recently for playing Moira in Schitt’s Creek, did most of her voice work in a San Francisco studio, where Selick was meticulously doing the stop-motion animation that is very time consuming; the movie took animators about three years to make. O’Hara told the Los Angeles Daily News: “In one shot, five seconds of a scene, I think that’s like a week’s work. When you see the movie, it’s just so beautiful and fluid and realistic in its own little world. You just forget all that work, but I really do appreciate it.”

6. More than 200 puppets were used for characters in the movie.

Nightmare Before Christmas Facts
Walt Disney Pictures/ MoviestillsDB

Of all The Nightmare Before Christmas facts, this one may surprise many people. Each character had its own selection of facial expressions. Jack Skellington alone had about 400 different facial expressions.

7. There’s a reason Jack Skellington has empty eye sockets

Jack Skellington Nightmare Before Christmas Facts
Jack Skellington in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) Burton Productions

Disney didn’t want him to be eyeless, as eyes make cartoon characters relatable and more humanlike. But Burton was adamant that Jack remain an empty skull.

8. Nightmare got an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects, with its stunning visuals.

Nightmare Before Christmas Facts
Walt Disney/MoviestillsDB

It was the first time an animated film had been nominated in that category. Alas, the movie lost to Jurassic Park.

9. Mickey Mouse has a cameo appearance?

In a laugh-out-loud scene — where real-world children peek at their gifts and get attacked by creepy toys including a toothy, quacking duck that chases them up the stairs — the girl is wearing Mickey pajamas. Her brother appears to have Donald Duck on his PJs. (Yeah, we didn’t notice either, until we read about it).

10. The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland gets a Nightmare theme.

Just another one of the fun The Nightmare Before Christmas facts. The makeover for the mansion is called the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

For similar content, click through the links below!

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