The Nightmare Before Christmas: what did director Henry Selick say about Tim Burton movie - how to watch in UK

The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick said that he thought it was ‘a little unfair’ that Tim Burton got more credit for the movie than he did.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most iconic Halloween (or Christmas) movies of all time - it follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town as he discovers Christmas Town and tries to merge the two festive traditions.

Plenty of fans will have flocked to Disney+ over the Halloween season to watch the film, and with Christmas just around the corner, it will receive fresh attention from audiences who steadfastly believe that Nightmare, like Die Hard, is a Christmas film.

Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Gothic feel of the Nightmare Before Christmas and Disney’s marketing tactics meant that many fans of the film mistakenly believe that it was directed by Tim Burton - but it is actually the work of the less well-known Henry Selick.

When promoting the film, which was released in 1993, Disney gave it the alternative title ‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas’, presumably to cash in on the director’s name recognition. Burton had already made a name for himself after directing the cult classics Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), and Batman Returns (1992).

Who is Henry Selick?

Henry Selick is a New Jersey born director who specialises in stop-motion animation movies - as well as The Nightmare Before Christmas, he has directed James And The Giant Peach and Coraline.

His latest film, Wendell & Wild, which landed on Netflix in October this year, follows two scheming demon brothers who enlist the help of their friend to travel to the land of the living. The film is thematically similar to Nightmare in that it features demonic characters travelling into a more family friendly world, where they unwittingly cause chaos.

Henry Selick directed The Nightmare Before Christmas

What did Henry Selick say about Tim Burton?

Selick told The AV Club: “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.”

Did Tim Burton direct The Nightmare Before Christmas?

No, but he does seem to have got far more of the credit for it than Selick - the promotional images for the film on Disney+ still use the title: ‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.’

The film took three years to make, 18 months of which was spent on the stop motion animation, during which time Burton was working on other projects.

However, Burton does still deserve some credit for the film, as he did work as a producer on the project and it is based on a three-page poem which he wrote in the 1980s when he was working for Walt Disney Feature Animation. The poem was a darker take on the classic ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’, and was adapted into a screenplay by Caroline Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay for Edward Scissorhands, The Corpse Bride, and Black Beauty.

Whilst Burton has gone on to become one of the most well-known film directors of the modern era, with a body of work known for his own trademark style, much like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, Selick has not had as much success. Since Nightmare, he has directed just four feature films, including the poorly received Monkeybone.

How can you watch The Nightmare Before Christmas in the UK?

You can watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney+ now - the film is 1hr 17mins long. A sing-along version of the film is also available on the platform.