I have a soft spot for A Nightmare Before Christmas, I think it’s a great little story, the animation is outstanding, and I’m a sucker for a good musical.
I know some people have said that the story just teaches us to ‘stay in our place in life’, but I never saw it like that. I like to think of it as how there are things you are good at in life, but that doesn’t mean to can’t learn new things from other people.
I digress since this is more about who gets the glory on a movie, the producer or the director?
A Nightmare Before Christmas was produced by Tim Burton, whose name is plastered just above the main title on most posters, DVD boxes, and all other advertising.
This has put the director’s nose out a little, and understandably so. Henry Selick is known as the stop motion animator who created movies like Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, and Monkeybone.
Selick’s latest movie, Wendell & Wild, is now on streaming. While doing interviews for movie, he has said he’s won many a bar bet over the question “Who directed Nightmare Before Christmas?” In fact, the title of the movie was changed about 3 weeks before release to Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas:
“That was a little unfair because it wasn’t called Tim Burton’s Nightmare until three weeks before the film came out. And I would have been fine with that, if that’s what I signed up for.
But Tim was in L.A. making two features while I directed that film, and I mean, Tim is a genius—or he certainly was in his most creative years. I always thought his story was perfect, and he designed the main characters. But it was really me and my team of people who brought that to life.“
Burton did develop the story and the characters, including the design of Jack Skellington, but it was Selick that sat through the painstaking process of stop motion for a move that ran for 76 minutes.
Burton’s name will sell a movie, but it’s a shame that Selick didn’t really get recognition for his work. Annoyingly, I did see Wendell & Wild being advertised, but I didn’t know it was Selick until writing this, which means I now really want to see it.