Henry Selick and Chris Sarandon Look Back at the Making of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Can you believe that Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 30 years old this year? In a new interview with People, director Henry Selick and the voice of Jack Skellington, Chris Sarandon, shared some memories and intriguing details about the popular film.

What’s Happening:

  • Selick revealed that Disney was initially somewhat reluctant to embrace the film, with very little merchandise at first. However, the film’s popularity quickly grew, and Disney promptly capitalized on that.
  • "And then finally, Disney called it a Disney film because originally, they were afraid it was too strange, it would damage their brand, and it was released as a Touchstone film," Selick said.
  • One clear sign of the film’s growing popularity was the annual Haunted Mansion Holiday transformation at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, which began at Disneyland in 2001.
  • Selick, who made his directorial debut with Nightmare, says he "always" knew that Nightmare was a "f— yeah project" for him, and that it originally started as an idea for a TV special that turned into something bigger.
  • Danny Elfman, the film’s composer, was always pinned to be the voice of Jack Skellington, but his phenomenal singing skills didn’t quite translate into dialogue reading. Hence why Chris Sarandon was cast to provide Jack’s speaking voice.
  • Selick said that Sarandon's voice “was close enough to Danny's that it could pass" as the same character.

  • Actress Catherine O’Hara was Tim Burton’s first choice for the role of Sally, the two having previously worked together on 1988’s Beetlejuice.
  • When asked about the possibility of a sequel, Selick was quick to deny the possibility, but had more positive things to say about a potential prequel.
  • "It might be more interesting to do a prequel," Selick says. "There might be a more interesting story there about how Jack became the King of Halloweentown."
  • "To quote Henry, 'F— yeah,' " Sarandon said. "If there were a sequel, I'd be there in a minute."
  • Read more of People’s interview with Henry Selick and Chris Sarandon here.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Disney+.
Sign up for Disney+ or the Disney Streaming Bundle (Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu) now
Luke Manning
Luke is a fan of all things theme parks and self-proclaimed #1 fan of Joffrey’s Coffee, who lives in Kissimmee, FL