Halloween Special: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 25!

Halloween Special: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 25!

burton nightmare before christmas

Halloween 2018 is a little bit more special for those who love animation and cinema. Twenty five years ago one of Tim Burton’s most memorable movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas was released. A curious fact is that it wasn’t actually though to be a movie in the very first place. The Nightmare Before Christmas was written by Tim Burton as a poem in 1982, in the same time he was working in another short-movie, Vincent. Thanks to Vincent’s success, this same year Burton started to consider turning the poem into either a short-movie or adapt it to a television format.



You might be thinking: why it took Tim Burton 11 years to finally produce The Nightmare Before Christmas? What many people are not aware of is that Walt Disney Studios thought Burton's idea was actually too dark and scary for kids. So it was only in 1990 that both parts finally came to an agreement. Disney decided to finally give it a shot, but Touchstone Pictures would distribute the movie. For those who don’t know, Touchstone Pictures is a film distribution label of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures responsible for more mature themes and darker toned movies that are targeted to an adult audience. After the agreement, the movie took three years to be made, resulting in its official release in 1993.

A fun fact is that Jack Skellington, the main character, made his first screen appearance far before the official release. The character Jack made a short cameo in Burton’s 1988 movie Beetlejuice. Needless to say that The Nightmare Before Christmas was a huge success. It was indeed granted an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, a first for a movie of its kind. The Nightmare Before Christmas was also the first animated stop-motion movie to be entirely converted to 3D. The movie is one of the most iconic Halloween (or Christmas?) movies of all time. After the huge success, Jack made short cameos in other famous movies such as “Coraline”, “Finding Nemo”, “Princess and the Frog”, “Sleepy Hallow” and “Alice in Wonderland”. There are also a crew of famous well-known characters doing short cameos on The Nightmare Before Christmas. In a couple of scenes you can see a hidden Mickey Mouse and on some others, Donald Duck.

Have a look at this original drawing from the storyboard of The Nightmare Before Christmas that we have here in our studio. The storyboard below w made with colorful pastel on black drawing paper, isn’t it just incredible? We love how they intelligently the illustrator used the color of the paper as a dramatic backdrop to the illustration.


Tim Burton, Nightmare before Christmas, Jack and Sally, Tim Burton storyboard

Tim Burton sketch, Nightmare before Christmas, Jack and Sally, Tim Burton storyboard
Tim Burton, Nightmare before Christmas sketch, Jack and Sally, Tim Burton storyboard


There’s a funny story behind how the original poem by Tim Burton brought The Nightmare Before Christmas to life. Tim Burton was inspired by something that happens every year that may go unnoticed. Have you ever observed the changing of Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations? To see evil-faced pumpkins alongside happy reindeers (even if just for a while) they have the same bittersweet taste as The Nightmare Before Christmas. That’s why the plot of the movie is so creative, because it’s based on such a delicate observation.

As dark and twisted it can be, The Nightmare Before Christmas is also a sweet love story. Even if in the original poem there were only three characters (Jack, Zero and Santa Claus) we are sure that the love story between Jack & Sally made the hearts of people all around the globe dream. In fact, what many may not know, is that in an extended version of the movie it is possible to see Jack portrayed as the father. As much as people tend not to like sequels, it's really a pitty not to have one for The Nightmare Before Christmas. Who knows what would have happened next to Jack, Sally and their family?

Even if we don’t have the answers to that (at least not yet.. hint hint), we can only dream. Who knows? Maybe we can ask Santa for a sequel this Christmas. In the meantime, if you can’t wait for Christmas and you’re looking for a Halloween treat, here’s some ideas:


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