Behind The Scenes Saturday: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! To continue with Spooky Season, I chose one of the most famous Christmas/Halloween films ever created, The Nightmare Before Christmas! It is a true holiday classic that created some of the most iconic characters! Even if you don’t know Jack Skellington’s name, you definitely know his face. I hope you enjoy this post!! 

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(Pictures by google.com and IMDb.com)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

  • In 2001, Disney wanted to make a sequel. Not only that, they wanted to make it computer animation instead of the stop motion used for this film. The film’s writer, Tim Burton convinced them to drop the idea of a sequel entirely. 
  • Tim Burton got the inspiration for the original poem when he was passing by a store and the Halloween display was being taken down and replaced with a Christmas display. His imagination sparked when he saw the combination of ghouls and goblins and Santa and his reindeer.
  • The film’s composer, Danny Elfman felt he had a lot in common with Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon). Because of this, he stated that creating the songs for this film was one of the easiest jobs he’s ever had. 
  • The most difficult shot to film in the movie was the shot where Jack reaches for the doorknob to Christmas Town. The viewers can perfectly see the forest behind Jack in the doorknob’s reflection. 
  • Jack Skellington was actually voiced by two people. Danny Elfman provided the voice for Jack for all the singing scenes. Chris Sarandon was cast as Jack for the speaking scenes. Sarandon admitted he didn’t have a good singing voice, so Danny signed on. It was a good thing their voices were very similar! 
  • With a crew of about 100 people, the film took 3 years to make. Up to 12 stop-motion movements had to be made for just 1 second of the film. 
  • Patrick Stewart did the original introduction for the film. His intro can still be heard on the film’s soundtrack. 
  • In the scenes that showed the street band, the little man inside the base was based on Danny Elfman. 
  • It was originally intended that Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) was actually Dr. Finklestein (William Hickey) in disguise. Finklestein would’ve admitted to doing all of that because he was jealous that Sally chose Jack over him. This would’ve changed their father/daughter relationship to a sort of lover’s pursuit. Tim Burton was so angry about this idea, that he reportedly kicked a hole into a wall. 
  • The film’s director, Henry Selick said that Vincent Price was supposed to be Santa Claus (Edward Ivory). Unfortunately, after Price’s wife passed away, his own health started to deteriorate and his voice performance was very “frail and weak.” The audio ended up being unusable, and to Selick’s regret, they had to recast the role. 
  • On the soundtrack, there’s an extended ending which explained Santa returning to Halloween Town years later and visiting Jack, who now has 4 or 5 skeleton children. 
  • There’s been a lot of controversy over exactly whose film The Nightmare Before Christmas is – Tim Burton’s or Henry Selick’s. Tim Burton wrote the original poem and most of the script. Henry directed the film and spent more time on set producing it than Burton. Selick once described it as if Burton laid the egg and Selick sat on it and hatched it. 
  • Two things had to be invented for the production. The first was a light alarm, which would warn the animators when any of the stage lights failed to turn on. The second one was a system that allowed a puppeteer to seamlessly switch to a replacement puppet if any of the puppets broke during a shot. They created these inventions because those were the two main things that kept ruining shots. 
  • Tim Burton and Danny Elfman had a lot of creative differences for this film. Due to this, Tim Burton went to Howard Shore to create the score for Ed Wood instead of Elfman. 
  • For a moment, Tim Burton considered making it a TV special instead of a feature film. 
  • During the shot where the vampires are playing ice hockey, they were originally playing with a severed head that resembled Tim Burton. After the test shot, they decided to replace the head with a jack-o-lantern. 
  • Jack only has 4 reindeer instead nine because the picture he showed to Dr. Finklestein only showed Santa’s sleigh with 4 reindeer. 
  • To create his voice for Oogie Boogie, Ken Page took inspiration from The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard Of Oz and Mercedes McCambridge’s vocal performance of Pazuzu in The Exorcist
Michael Wick details the Santa puppet.
  • Sally (Catherine O’Hara) was originally supposed to have trouble walking. The filmmakers had to change the idea because Sally looked too drunk while walking. 
  • Some of the gifts that Jack gave to the children were nods to other Tim Burton films. One child gets a snake that resembles the sandworm from Beetlejuice. The shrunken head is a nod to the man in the waiting room – also in Beetlejuice. The cat and the duck are from Batman Returns
  • During Jack’s first visit to Christmas Town, he unintentionally breaks a snowflake, destroys a snowman, and scares a little sleeping elf. This was subtle foreshadowing to how much destruction he’s going to bring later when he tries to take over Christmas. 

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