“This is Halloween!”
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most celebrated films of the holiday season. It works as both a Halloween film and a Christmas film, so many families and fans (such as myself) watch it multiple times during the final months of the year. The movie is twenty-seven years old as of this writing and it shows no signs of losing its place as a holiday classic. Considering how long it took to create the film, I’m sure that Tim Burton and the cast and crew appreciate how beloved this film has become.
I’ve already reviewed this film in a prior post, so feel free to check that out here. For this post, I want to give you a little glimpse into the “making of” process that brought Jack, Sally, and the rest of the gang to life.
As far back as 1982, Disney toyed with the idea of bringing Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas to life as either a television special or a short film. The basis for the project was Tim Burton’s poem of the same name. Burton initially wanted it to be a television special but as time went by, Disney lost interest in the project and shelved the idea.
Finally, Disney agreed to produce the film but only if it was done through their Touchstone property. They felt that the movie was too bizarre for the Disney name, but they could not pass up the potential profits of a Tim Burton film. Working with director Henry Selick, screenplay writer Caroline Thompson, composer Danny Elfman, and a crew that had more patience than you could imagine, the film was completed in three years.
Thirteen animators and numerous other prop and stage builders gave Jack and company a world to play in for the musical. What appears in one minute in the film took a week to produce. As many as twenty different sets were in use at one time while shooting the film. Over two hundred puppets had to be designed and created for the film as well and according to Richard Rickitt, Jack alone had over four hundred heads for filming. The stop-motion process was brutal but the end result was so beautiful.
Even though the film was produced by Touchstone, Disney attempted to set limitations on and had a few demands for Burton and Selick’s project. The company felt that the movie was just too weird for most Disney audiences but knew that they could potentially make a ton of money from the project. One of the oddest demands was that Jack needed to have eyes. Thankfully this was one battle that Burton and Selick won, as Jack would just look silly with eyes in my opinion. Disney didn’t even push the film that hard with advertising, instead slowly rolling the film out until it became so large on its own that Disney finally embraced it as one of their films.
I love this film. From the music to the set design, it’s nothing short of wonderful. I hope that you enjoyed this brief glimpse at the making of one of the most beloved holiday films around. Let me know in the comments what you think about this movie.
Thanks for reading my post. Whether you were brought to it by your love of Jack Skellington, Disney, or film in general, I’m glad that you visited my blog today.