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Trivia / The Nightmare Before Christmas

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  • Cash Cow Franchise: Oh yes! Ironically, Tim Burton seemed to try to prevent this to an extent, by refusing to do sequels and ruin the integrity of the movie for fans.
  • Completely Different Title: The film received several different titles in translation. In Polish, it's called Halloween Town, while Portugese and French had a different interpretation, calling it Jack's Strange World and Mr. Jack's Strange Christmas respectively.
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  • Creator Breakdown: Danny Elfman, who at the time was still the frontman of Oingo Boingo, suffered a nervous breakdown at the end of the film's production. Unlike most films he scores, which only require him to work for three weeks, he was on this project for two years, and eventually cracked under the pressure of being a full-time film composer and the front man for a rock band. He and Tim Burton had a brief falling out and he was forced to break up his band in order to focus full-time on movies. Burton was even nice enough to never to speak of the ordeal again when all was said and done.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Danny Elfman's head is inside the jazz trio's upright bass.
    • A cut scene would have had the vampires playing ice hockey with Tim Burton's head instead of the pumpkin used in the final print.
  • Development Hell: Burton used to be a Disney animator and came up with the concept, presented as a poem, in the early 1980s.
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  • Doing It for the Art: The film required an entire production studio to be built up from scratch in four months and took over three years to film, utilizing up over a dozen sound stages, a phenomenal amount of space. It was also a technical innovation: a special motion-control camera was created to allow for more sweeping cinematography. Despite the films incredible success, Tim Burton himself has fought against Disney many times against turning it into a Cash Cow Franchise; especially regarding any possible sequel as he doesn't want to ruin the integrity of the first one.
  • Executive Meddling: Technically, this is why the film exists at all. All of Tim Burton's concept art was drawn on studio time (and paper) during his down time on The Fox and the Hound, so Disney claimed it as their intellectual property and relegated it to their archives when Burton left in 1983, bringing them up once he made a name for himself with Batman (1989). Disney also moved the film under the Touchstone label at the last minute when they worried about releasing a "scary" movie under "Walt Disney Pictures." Future re-releases, both home and theatrical, would bring it back under the Disney name, after the Disney brand began to expand their demographic starting with the PG-13 Pirates of the Caribbean series.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Bone-Demon: Jack and any fan-made skeletons like him. Understood to be a sort of sub-species of either Undead or demon. Usually used in the camp that thinks Jack and Sally have kids by natural means.
    • Dr. Finkly: Dr. Finklestein, by his fans.
    • Jewel: Dr. Finklestein creation/wife seen at the end of the movie. While there's no evidence that Finklestein's "Be careful, my precious jewel!" is a reference to her name, the fans use it anyways.
    • Skeledoll: The name of Jack and Sally's fandom daughters. Can be either just ragdolls with bones or a mixture of ragdoll and skeleton.
    • Spiral Hill: The hill where Jack gets his first song and where Jack and Sally have The Big Damn Kiss. The English localisation of Kingdom Hearts II calls it "Curly Hill" (the Japanese version calls it "Spiral Hill"), but if this poll is any indication, fans massively prefer "Spiral".
  • Inspiration for the Work: Tim Burton wrote the original story after seeing Christmas decorations being put up in a store window display while the Halloween decorations were being taken down.
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • Danny Elfman does the singing voice of Jack, while Chris Sarandon does the speaking voice. In "Oogie's Revenge", the trope is averted with Sarandon singing the songs.
    • The Italian dub averts this with Jack, having him dubbed by Renato Zero, a famous singer; as well as the German dub, with Nina Hagen as Sally.
  • Production Posse: Tim Burton regulars like Catherine O'Hara, Glenn Shadix and even Danny Elfman have voice roles. Henry Selick's own circle of collaborators, who'd worked with him on MTV station IDs and Pillsbury Doughboy commercials, followed him onto this project.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Jack Skellington is the king of his own empire but desperate to move on to something new and exciting. His songs are written and performed by Danny Elfman, who at the time was the leader of an acclaimed rock band, but was desperate to move permanently into his new and exciting career as a film composer.
    • Jack discovers a world known for being lighthearted and wholesome, and tries to bring his own dark and spooky twist into it, which backfires, before he and Christmas end up finding common ground together. Replace "Jack" with Tim Burton and "Christmas" with Disney, and you have the story of how Tim Burton was forced to leave Disney only to have Disney distribute his first animated feature.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The film was based on an illustrated poem by Tim Burton. An anniversary edition of the poem added some more Burton illustrations more close to the film.
  • Referenced by...: The blink-182 song "I Miss You" has a couple lines about living "like Jack and Sally" and having "Halloween on Christmas." Mark Hoppus wrote the song for his then-fiance (now ex-wife), both of whom were huge fans of the film and eventually had a Nightmare-themed wedding.
  • Talking to Himself: Averted. Elfman does the voice of Jack Skellington and Barrel (and the Clown), but since he's only the singing voice of Jack, he never runs into this trope. Likewise averted by Sally and Shock, who are both voiced by Catherine O'Hara but never share a scene with each other.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • This film was originally planned to be released as part of the Disney Animated Canon, but was released under the Touchstone Pictures instead because its content was considered too dark for Disney standards.
    • Originally, Dr. Finklestein was going to be Oogie, disguised because he was jealous that Sally chose Jack over him and wanted to teach her a lesson. See here.
    • Another idea was to have the bugs exit Oogie Boogie's body and attack Jack. The storyboards for this can be viewed here.
    • Also This early script shows some changes, like we were going to see some of the other holidays at the beginning sequence, and "This Is Halloween" is considerably different from the final product (for example, Jack was going to come in on a Cool Undead Horse).
    • There was also a couple of storyboards floating about the net (which seems to missing now) that had Jack and Oogie going at each other with freaking maces.
    • A dying Vincent Price was offered the role of Sandy Claws, but was too frail and in poor health to give a good performance.
    • Before Danny Elfman, Giorgio Moroder was offered to score the project, but turned it down.
    • Weirdest of all, the movie almost didn't get the Spiral Hill which codified Goth Spirals! On the DVD commentary, Henry Selick indicated that Tim was unsure about the hill because of his mandate that "magic does not exist in Halloween Town." (Specifically, the unwinding part seemed like magic.) Selick only changed his mind by saying, "All right, then, it's a mechanical hill."
      • He used this same trick to get Lock, Shock, and Barrel's bathtub worked in, by adding a crank in the back and calling it mechanical.
    • The vampires playing hockey at the end of the film were originally using Burton's head as a puck.
    • The poem in the opening narrative was recited by Edward Ivory, who also played the voice of Sandy Claws. An earlier recording (which is available on the original soundtrack) was several lines longer and read by Patrick Stewart. Hear it in all its glory here.
    • Stewart also provided a coda that wasn't used, where it was revealed that the narrator was in fact Sandy Claus himself, and had visited Jack years later, having "grown quite fond of that skeleton man". It is also revealed that Jack had several baby skeletons running around (presumably with Sally). This verse is also available on the original soundtrack, and can be heard here.
    • At one point Burton considered making a follow-up titled The Unlucky Clover based around St. Patrick's Day.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: All of the songs were written, one-by-one, before there was a screenplay. Tim Burton would pitch each part of the story to Danny Elfman, who would write a song based on what Burton would tell him and sketches he'd show him. They later claimed that they wrote it this way because they had no other idea where to start with such an unusual story.


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