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Nightmare Before Christmas Director Says ‘Tim Burton’ Shouldn’t Be in the Title

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Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, doesn’t think Tim Burton’s name should be in the film’s title.


In an interview with AV Club, Selick explained how Burton’s name was added to the film’s title three weeks before premiering in theaters; a move he says belies Burton’s lack of involvement. While people often mistake Nightmare for being a Burton-directed film, Selick was actually in the director’s chair, and Burton served as a producer due to his scheduling conflicts with Batman Returns. “I always thought his story was perfect, and he designed the main characters,” Selick said. “But it was really me and my team of people who brought that to life.”

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The Coraline director continued by saying Burton had “very little to do” with the making of Nightmare Before Christmas. However, he does concede that the film was based on Burton’s concepts. “It was his idea. It was his character designs. But he entrusted me because he knew me and the head of storyboards,” Selick said. He further explained how Burton simply showed up towards the end of production to make some final edits. Additionally, the director joked about how composer Danny Elfman believed Nightmare was his own creation.

In addition to Burton, Selick has also collaborated with Neil Gaiman to create Coraline, and Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key to make Wendell & Wild. However, his name often gets lost in the spotlight. “So I really, truly like to collaborate. But I’m the one leading the team to make the movie,” Selick explained.

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The director recalled a similar situation on his subsequent collaboration with Burton for 1996’s James and the Giant Peach. “Tim was a producer, but he wasn’t really there,” Selick recalled. The stop-motion film director revealed that, in Burton’s absence, he had to deal with Disney executive David Vogel, who “sucked so much juice out of the movie because of his ego that it hurt the film.”

Since Burton’s Nightmare days, the Beetlejuice director has publicly called it quits with Disney decades after starting his career at the animation studio in 1982. The termination of their relationship comes after Burton directed the 2019 live-action adaptation of Disney’s Dumbo. “I realized that I was Dumbo, that I was working in this horrible big circus and I needed to escape,” Burton said. In addition to Disney, Burton criticized major studios for becoming “very homogenized and consolidated.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Disney+. Wendell & Wild is streaming on Netflix now.

Source: AV Club

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