Before it was the inspiration for Disney’s biggest cult film, it was a short story penned by the legendary Tim Burton.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has become arguably Disney’s biggest cult film, achieving the status long before Hocus Pocus started stealing the spotlight. But what even some of the most dedicated Disney buffs out there might not know is that it. existed before Henry Selick even cobbled together the first puppet of Jack Skellington. At one time, the story was a children’s poem written by Tim Burton in the style of A Visit From St. Nicholas. Supposedly inspired by a storefront window changing from Halloween to Christmas decorations, Burton’s twisted holiday tale of Jack Skelington’s spooky scheme served as the inspiration for the iconic stop-motion masterpiece released in 1993.
While Jack does hatch a plan to give his own ghoulish Christmas gifts to the world, there are still a few differences between the story on the page and the one that made it into the script. For instance, Jack, Zero, and Santa Claus are the only named characters from the film that appear in the text, although there is a trio of trick-or-treaters that can be implied to be Lock, Shock and Barrel. Naturally, jumping from page to screen is going to come with a few artistic liberties, especially if the filmmakers want to make their required runtime. For a short story only a few pages long, Burton’s masterpiece made the transition wonderfully with the help of Henry Selick and Walt Disney Pictures.
While it added its own flavors to the mix, the film benefited tremendously from Tim Burton’s iconically twisted art style, particularly Jack with his spindly form and manner of movements. It’s honestly quite remarkable how the mixing of mediums came together so marvelously to create one of the most ambitious films that Disney ever helped create. The results were nothing short of weird and whimsical, and the film has certainly stood the test of time. All thanks to its humble beginnings.
Have you read Tim Burton’s original story? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!night