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."
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.
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."
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.
Chris Sarandon was cast as Jack Skellington because his speaking voice matched the singing voice of Danny Elfman.
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.
Patrick Stewart did the original introduction for the movie, which can be heard on the film's soundtrack.
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.
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. The film premiered at a film festival on October 9th, only 16 days before Price's death and was released on a limited basis four days later. The film's first United States wide release was October 29th, four days after Price passed away.
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.
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 Jack has about four or five skeleton children.
The "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" music is heard in The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride at Disneyland California and Disneyland Tokyo as an instrumental version.
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."
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.
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.
In the first few seconds after the title is shown, you can see that there are actually 7 Holiday Doors. Going counter 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 could be for American Independence Day or British Bonfire Night.
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.
The character of Dr. Finklestein is listed only as "Evil Scientist" in the cast credits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a test shot of the end where the vampires play hockey on the frozen lake, they originally used a head that resembled the head of the film's creator and producer Tim Burton. However, one of the producers told director Henry Selick that Burton probably wouldn't like that, so it was changed at the last moment and re-shot with a jack o' lantern instead of a head. Selick later said that he believed that Burton would have liked the idea, and regretted not asking the man himself.
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.
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).
At one point, Tim Burton considered making this a TV special rather than a feature film.
The Christmas tree in Sally's vision that catches fire is the same tree in Jack's house.
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.
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.
Originally, in the movie, Oogie Boogie was going to be a disguised Finkelstein. Finkelstein, upon defeat, would admit that he was doing this because he was jealous that Sally chose Jack over him. This hints that Sally might have, originally, been more of a love interest of Finkelstein's rather than a daughter. This ending was changed as it came out of nowhere with a serious lack of any set-up. The producer, Tim Burton hated the idea so much, he reportedly kicked a hole in a wall after hearing it
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.
Having his color palette consists only of black and white (literally, not counting when he's wearing Santa's outfit or when he's wearing the Pumpkin King outfit), Jack is so the first (and so far only) character in Disney history to be completely colorless despite coming from a technicolor film. All other black-and-white characters before and after him came from black-and-white films as well.
Jack was listed #22 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating as his stroke of genius the song "What's This?", as Jack - accustomed as he is to the dark, twisted Halloween Town, tries to get his head around the sweetness and light of Christmas Town. Jack Skellington has become a recurring theme in Gothic-style clothing and accessories, mostly due to his character and nature (as well as the nature of the movie in general).
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.
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.
There has been debate over whether or not the "Shadow in the Moon" character seen during "This is Halloween" is the same character as Oogie Boogie, as they bear a striking resemblance to one another. However, in Villains Unleashed, Oogie Boogie calls himself "The shadow of the moon at night", confirming the speculation, further emphasized by a similar reference in the 2015 theme park show, Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. If Oogie is indeed the shadow in the moon, then this seems to indicate that his banishment is lifted on occasion of Halloween in order for him to participate. He also fights in the form of the shadow in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.
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.
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").
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.
A model of the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be spotted briefly in the back row of the Town Meeting scene.
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
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.
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.
The song 'Jack's Lament' can, in some way count as the classic I Want song common to the Disney Princesses, since it represents Jack's life-long wish of experiencing something new and straying away from the repetitive traditions of Halloween. However, it could also count as an I Am song associated not just with princesses, but also other characters, as Jack also describes how much he is adored and well-known by many for who he is and what he can do. With these aspects found in the song, it would make "Jack's Lament" a unique combination of the two song types. During the line "I have swept the very bravest off their feet", a statue of The Scream by Edvard Munch can be seen. Also at one point during the song, one of the lines Jack says alludes to the William Shakespeare play Hamlet.
Sally originally was supposed to have trouble walking, however, the filmmakers changed this because they thought Sally looked drunk while walking. However, it is shown that Sally walks more stiffly than other characters.
According to Ken Page, Oogie's vocal performance was a mix between Bert Lahr's portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film adaptation The Wizard of Oz, and Mercedes McCambridge's performance as the demon, Pazuzu, in the 1973 film The Exorcist. He was also greatly inspired by Cab Calloway, as songwriter Danny Elfman was inspired by "St. James Infirmary Blues" when writing Oogie's song.
Despite generally being considered antagonists, The trio consisting of Lock, Shock and Barrel is meant to emulate how real children their age act (although obviously, with an increased fascination for the morbid and the macabre, being citizens of Halloweentown).
In the soundtrack, an epilogue poem is included that implies that Jack had "4 or 5 skeleton children" several years after the film. The mother of said children is unknown.
Jack Skellington's sleigh only has 3 reindeer, rather than the 9 found on Santa's sleigh. This is because the book originally shown to the doctor in order to make the reindeer only showed 3.
When Jack removes his head "to recite Shakespearian quotations" due to his dead status, he is referencing Hamlet, in particular a famous scene where the title character finds the skull belonging to a deceased Court Jester named Yorick, with whom the titular character is familiar.
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.
The sewing machine Sally uses has a spider spinning its web. The web is the thread for the machine.
Finkelstein looks very duck-like in appearance. However, when portrayed at the Disney theme parks, he is more human-like, and the costume has no duck-like features.
Despite being considered a villain by many fans, Tim Burton himself does not consider Oogie Boogie evil. Nevertheless, Oogie is still marketed as a villain and is considered one due to his heinous actions against Santa, Sally and Jack throughout the movie.
Lock, Shock and Barrel's names as a whole are derived from wordplay of the phrase "Lock, stock, and barrel," a phrase meaning 'everything', which in turn was derived from the components of a musket.
The Italian rock band "Lacuna Coil" used "This is Halloween" as part of the opening to their concert set on their "Comalies" tour.
Finkelstein is only referred to as the 'Evil Scientist' in the credits. His true name is only mentioned in the movie when the Mayor calls him up to the front of the line for his Christmas assignment.
Sally's mouth movements "were animated through the replacement method. During the animation process,...only Sally's face 'mask' was removed in order to preserve the order of her long reddish-brown hair. Sally had 10 types of faces, each made with a series of 11 expressions (e.g. eyes open and closed, and various facial poses) and synchronized mouth movements."
While in the actual film and in some video games (e.g. Kingdom Hearts series) Oogie's burlap sack's color is brown grey, in most promotional material, games, merchandising, and the Disney Parks his color is neon-green, which he only appears as when his casino lair is lit up in black light. Oogie Boogie was originally going to reveal to be Dr. Finkelstein in a costume, who fabricated the Oogie Boogie persona to get back at Jack and Sally, but this ending was scrapped.
The Wolfman is shown wearing a nightgown cap that resembles the one worn by the granny in the classic fable 'Little Red Riding Hood'.
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.
"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.
Although Jack is the hero/protagonist of his film, in some stores in the Disney Parks (most notably Walt Disney World) his merchandise is seen alongside that of the Disney Villains. This may have something to do by the fact that Jack is a bit antagonistic early on the film when he resolves to kidnap Santa Claus to take over Christmas while being oblivious to Santa's opinion.
The Harlequin monster is modeled and named after a classical form of clown known as a harlequin. Harlequins were distinguished by dressing in clothing covered in diamond color schemes of orange/red and green/black which the feathers of the Harlequin Demon channel. They are also portrayed as having jester hats which the three tentacles of the Harlequin Demon resemble. In classical tradition, Harlequins were trickster characters who often played demons or the devil in story performances, hence the nature of the Harlequin Demon.
The reason it's Sally's left arm that detaches after she jumps out the window is because her right arm was more recently stitched up, making it more secure to her body.
The Japanese version of "Sally's Song" was covered on Nightmare Revisited by an American artist known as Scott Murphy, who is popular in Japan.
Sally is somewhat similar to Frankenstein's monster and the monster made in the Bride of Frankenstein, as she was a sewn-up monster created by a mad scientist.
A close look when Lock, Shock and Barrel shove Santa through the chute to Oogie Boogie reveals that Santa Claus is wearing underwear with Mistletoe all over it, perhaps suggestively pushing the idea of kissing his rear
The fact that the Mayor has two faces is a play on the term "two-faced politician."
Though they appear to have reformed at the end of the movie, all appearances after the movie have Lock, Shock, and Barrel reverting back to being antagonists.
Though it seems that Lock, Shock and Barrel are not completely loyal to Oogie, seeing their supposed reformation, they went as far as to bring him back to life, suggesting they enjoy working for him more than being good.
There is a homage to the original Frankenstein (1931). Both doctors (Henry- The Monster, Finkelstein- Sally) talk about making their creations "with my own hands", then stare intently at their hands.
Several quotes from the melody of the "Dies Irae" are heard in a few musical sequences such as "Making Christmas" and Oogie Boogie's Song.
In 2008, Evanescence's frontwoman Amy Lee covered "Sally's Song" for the cover album Nightmare Revisited. Jack and Sally are mentioned in the song, "I Miss You" by Blink-182. "Sally's Song" was covered by European Gothic-Neo Classical band, Dark Sanctuary, on the album Exaudi Vocem Meam Part II. Sally's Song was covered by Californian Gothic band, London After Midnight on the compilation album Oddities.
Oogie Boogie was not present in Tim Burton's original poem that inspired the movie.
Though Jack is usually shown with white stripes on his clothes, his 2D artworks usually have them absent (or largely absent, some white can sometimes be seen).
Though Lock is the leader of the trio, it was not until Kingdom Hearts his leadership was actually confirmed.
the scene in which Lock, Shock and Barrel remove their masks was based on a season five episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Masks," which had a huge impact on Tim Burton as a child.
When he's trying to understand Christmas scientifically, Jack 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.
In the game spin-offs and Kingdom Hearts series, Finkelstein's name is pronounced "steen" instead of "stein".
Looking at simply his face, the Harlequin demon looks very similar to The Monster Under the Bed. Albeit with green eyes instead of red.
Jack implies in his song, "Jack's Lament" that he was effectively "born" from a cadaver located in Kentucky, which he considered unlucky, and that he had been publicly known in England and France.
In Russia, the trio is voiced by an all-male rock band; because of this, Shock (who is female) is voiced by a man.
There has been debate over whether or not the "Shadow in the Moon" character seen during "This is Halloween" is the same character as Oogie Boogie, as they bear a striking resemblance to one another.
On the free online building game 'Roblox,' a hat entitled 'Halloween Monster' was released. It is essentially the Harlequin Demon's upper head, with the eyes and tentacles Nergal from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy Black Mutant Monster Demon Pain and Panic From Hercules Purple and Green.