Director Henry Selick says Tim Burton had Very Little to do with Nightmare Before Christmas and it’s Unfair to Give him all the Recognition

The Night Before Christmas director Henry Selick said it was not fair that movie filmmaker Tim Burton received all the recognition for the blockbuster film.

On Monday, November 1, Selick sat down in an interview with AV Club on Halloween and said it wasn’t fair to market the movie as Burton’s nightmare when he directed it.

“No, 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.” He said.

“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.”

He jokingly said that even the film’s composer would have claimed the movie if someone asked him because he had played one of the major parts in the film’s making.

“Now, of course, if you ask Danny Elfman, well, that’s his movie,” he laughed.

“When we finished the film, it was so funny because he (Elfman) came up to me and shook my hand saying, ‘Henry, you’ve done a wonderful job illustrating my songs!’ And he was serious, and I loved it! Fine,” said Henry. 

“Fine,” he continued. “But my thing was I’m going to hang in there long enough to where people actually say, ‘Oh, that guy Henry, he does stuff.”‘

And Selick is right, as when the movie was released in 1993, many people remembered it as Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

Although Tim created the film’s original story, theme, and characters, he couldn’t play any part in the writing and direction due to some conflict over dates.

The 69-year-old director and animator who is best known for his directing stop-motion animation films also directed James and the Giant Peach and Caroline – both amazingly done by him.

In his interview, Henry maintained that he loves to collaborate with people and does not find issues in sharing credit, but he believes in taking full or major credit where it’s due, and Burton was not the one who did the major work for TNBC.

“I’ll just go through it again. Tim Burton had very little to do with the making of Nightmare Before Christmas. But it was his idea,” he explained.

“It was his character designs. But he entrusted me because he knew me and the head of storyboards, Joe Ranft. But it was my crew up in San Francisco that made that.”

“He showed up at the end with an editor and trimmed out some stuff to tighten up the film.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas is known to be one of Hollywood’s ‘sleeper hits’ and made more than $50 million at the box office. It was also nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe Award.

“So I really, truly like to collaborate. But I’m the one leading the team to make the movie,” concluded Henry.

Share Your Thoughts:

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Sources: Daily MailAV ClubPEOPLE

1 comment
  1. That movie wouldn’t be squat without Danny Elfman’s music. But I totally agree you deserve the kudos for direction and animation.

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