4K/Blu-Ray Review: “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” Looks Better Than Ever

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 30 this year and while you won’t find an anniversary banner on the brand-new 4K Ultra-HD “Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” that certainly seems to be the main impetus behind the release. And while it’s only been 5 years since the film was last refreshed on disc, fans have been experiencing it the same way since 2008’s first HD release, which has been the transfer used ever since. It’s always looked great on Blu-Ray, so you may be asking yourself an important question – Do I need it in 4K?



Jack Skellington is such an important part of Halloween night in Halloween Town that he is known as “The Pumpkin King.” The entire holiday rests on his shoulders, but this year, Jack’s lost interest in the holiday. One night, he happens upon an alcove of trees with portals to other holiday worlds. His curiosity sparked, he opens one that leads him to Christmas Town, a trip that ignites his passion for a new holiday. This year, Jack Skellington plans to do Christmas his way.

Inspired by the Rankin/Bass stop motion animated holiday specials, Tim Burton’s dream project became a reality in 1993, although it would take a decade for the film to find mass appeal. It’s now a double-holiday perennial classic, one that has found its own unique spot in pop culture. This 4K release presents the film in a new remaster, one that isn’t solely based on its previous 3D version, although it still uses the modern day Disney intro in place of the original Touchstone Pictures introduction. Aside from that, this “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” actually loses a few bonus features instead of adding any new ones. Therefore, the only reason to get this version is for the 4K transfer.


I didn’t think Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas could look much better than it has for the past 15 years on Blu-Ray, but I was wrong. The 4K transfer not only adds better color contrast, which particularly pops during the film’s Christmas Town segments, but it also adds a lot of detail to every frame. That’s unique on this film given the handmade quality of every piece. Having seen the film countless times over the years, I was surprised how many details I noticed for the first time while watching this release. The included Blu-Ray disc uses this same transer, although there is a noticeable loss of detail and color compression when directly compared to the 4K disc.


The 4K disc uses a 7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio mix, which appears to be the same one used on previous Blu-Ray releases. Indeed, it sounds the same on the Blu-Ray disc, although the volume reference point is significantly lower on the 4K disc. Other 4K audio options include 5.1 Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.

Bonus Features

  • Song Selection (31:43) – All of the songs from the film are presented in Sing-Along mode. These can be viewed with a “Play All” option or individually.
    • “This Is Halloween” (3:08)
    • “Jack’s Lament” (3:13)
    • “What’s This?” (2:46)
    • “Town Meeting Song” (2:59)
    • “Jack’s Obsession” (2:52)
    • “Kidnap the Sandy Claws” (3:02)
    • “Making Christmas” (3:52)
    • “Oogie Boogie’s Song” (2:33)
    • “Sally’s Song” (1:46)
    • “Poor Jack” (2:55)
    • “Finale/Reprise” (2:37)
  • “What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour” (37:24) – This tour of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday stops frequently to go behind the scenes of the seasonal overlay. On previous releases, there were two viewing modes. You could watch just the attraction ride-thru or watch this expanded version. This release only offers the full experience.
  • Tim Burton’s Early Film – Frankenweenie from 1984 (29:59) – A very interlaced and glitchy transfer of Tim Burton’s 1984 live-action TV special that inspired the 2012 animated feature.
  • Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee (11:36) – Tim Burton introduces his original treatment for the story, presented with illustrations based on Burton’s concept art.
  • The Making of Tim burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (24:44) – This six-part behind-the-scenes television special is presented with a play-all option or by individual chapters.
    • The Beginning (3:12)
    • Music (1:34)
    • Storyboards (1:07)
    • Art Direction (6:37)
    • Puppets (2:48)
    • Animation (9:24)
  • Deleted Storyboards (2:56) – Three deleted storyboard sequences are presented with scratch audio.
    • Behemoth Singing (0:54)
    • Oogie Boogie with Dancing Bugs (0:38)
    • Alternate Identity of Oogie Boogie (1:23)
  • Deleted Animated Sequences (3:04) – Three deleted animation sequences are presented with a play-all feature or individually.
    • Vampire Hockey Players (0:18)
    • Lock, Shock and Barrel (2:18)
    • Oogie Boogie Shadow Dance (0:27)
  • Storyboard-to-Film Comparison (3:47) – The “Town Meeting” sequence from the film is presented alongside the original storyboards.
  • Audio Commentary (1:16:39) – Tim Burton, Henry Selick, and Danny Elfman share their memories and reflections on making the film in this feature-length commentary.
  • Posters and Trailers
    • Posters (0:25) – Five posters are presented in a short video clip.
    • Teaser Trailer (1:42) – The teaser trailer linked Nightmare to classic Disney animation and features behind-the-scenes footage.
    • Trailer (1:26) – The original theatrical trailer is the only evidence on this disc that the film was originally released under the Touchstone banner.

What’s Missing? Other than a decent-looking version of Frankenweenie, which omits Tim Burton’s introduction on this release, it also noticeably drops Tim Burton’s 1982 stop-motion animated short Vincent. While the individual sing-along videos are here, the full feature film with sing-along viewing mode has also been dropped from the disc (but is included with the digital copy). As was the case with the previous release, only the “Play-All” version of the “Haunted Mansion Holiday” attraction is presented, omitting an interactive option that made it possibly to view a nonstop professionally shot ride-through of the attraction. A slideshow gallery from the 2008 release, “The Worlds of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas,” has not been replicated since that release. And a deleted scene called “Jack's Scientific Experiment” has not been included since the 2008 release.

Packaging & Design

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas comes in a standard black 4K Blu-Ray case with disc holders on either side of the interior. Only the 4K disc has artwork. The included Blu-Ray disc uses the 2018 release’s “Sing-Along Edition” logo on the disc, despite not actually including the full movie in sing-along mode. The only insert is a digital copy code, redeemable through Movies Anywhere. The initial pressing includes a holofoil embossed slipcover. There aren’t any trailers on either disc. The menu for both discs replicates the graveyard scene from the 2018 release, with footage from the film projected on the moon.

Final Thoughts

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas looks stunning on 4K Ultra-HD. Those coming to this release solely for the 4K transfer will not be disappointed. The “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” branding is misleading, as the bonus features included actually lose some while gaining nothing. However, even on Blu-Ray, this transfer is an improvement from previous HD releases.

Purchase Options

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).