ByChris Moore, writer at
Full-time writer and professional movie geek; writer of all things Star Wars, DC and Marvel for the Moviepilot Editorial team. @Irish_CGM
Chris Moore

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic holiday movie, but the argument over whether it should be labelled as a Christmas or halloween movie has been debated since the film's release in October 1993.

Even the title of the film is ambiguous: The Nightmare Before Christmas, which references Christmas by name, yet implies Halloween. But before I encourage further debate, it's worth pointing out that the question was recently posed to director Henry Selick.

“Is it a Christmas movie, or a Halloween movie?”

"Oh boy." [...] "It's a Halloween movie."

So there we have it, Selick himself says that the movie falls into the 'Halloween' category rather than 'Christmas.' I'm sure some people will still dispute which season it truly belongs to, and I won't start rambling on about auteur theory or even quote Francois Truffaut as saying, "there are no good or bad films, only good or bad directors."

Okay... I did ramble a little. The director calls the shots, and in this case he says The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie!

As an extra treat, I've also thrown together a few interesting and surprising facts about A Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm sure a few of you already knew some of them, but let me know what you think -- especially if any of this comes as a shock!

A Few Surprising Facts

1. Tim Burton wasn't the director

Okay, I've spoiled this one for you all already -- and my apologies if you already knew, but it was in fact Henry Selick who directed the iconic movie, rather than Tim Burton, as many believe. Burton was working on Batman Begins at the time and is credited as producer of T.N.B.C. However, his fame did give the film a boost in popularity.

2. The plot was inspired by...

Growing up in sunny California meant a lack of seasonal changes for a young Burton, who revealed on the commentary for The Nightmare Before Christmas that during his childhood there was often a crossover between Christmas and Halloween decorations. This amalgamation of jolly and dark prompted him to conceive of the Christmasy-Halloween tale.

3. Burton originally had T.N.B.C. planned as a Christmas special

Yes, it seems that when Burton first dreamed up the movie, it was as a Christmas special, but that it was repeatedly rejected by studios until he re-wrote it as a full-length feature film.

Moreover, apparently 20 years passed between Burton conceiving of T.N.B.C. and its debut in 1993.

4. Shooting began before the script's completion

Stop-motion is dying a quick death with modern CGI being as good as it is. But it seems that the team started cracking on with the movie well before the script was finished. Even so, it took them a week to piece together each minute of the film, which took a total of three years! It was definitely worth it though.

5. Director Henry Selick was behind Jack's suit

So Jack's iconic black suit with white pinstripes was conceived by Selick, who changed the design to make Jack stand out more. This fixed an issue they were having where the protagonist blended into the black background.

6. Disney tried to give Jack a pair of eyes

It's well known that eyes connote emotion and empathy. In the film industry, a character's eyes display the emotion that makes them likable and relatable. So naturally, when Disney saw Jack they pushed to give him eyes. However, Burton and Selick knew that it would make Jack too human and fought to keep the character pure.

(Source:,,, Film101.)


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