In 1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas was released giving audiences a Halloween/Christmas mash-up they’d never forget. Directed by Henry Selick and produced and conceived by Tim Burton, the movie tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who stumbles through a portal to Christmas Town. He decides to take over the holiday and introduce it to his creepy companions, but things don’t go exactly as planned.
The project originated in the form of a poem written by Burton in 1982 while working as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation. Years later, it began to take shape as a feature with Danny Elfman taking charge of the songs and score, while also providing the singing voice of Jack. Additional voice actors joined the movie including Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.
With all that in-mind, here’s exactly how you can stream The Nightmare on Christmas and everything you might want to know about the film, it’s box office success, critical reception, and more!
How to Stream ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – Exclusively on Disney+
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the classic 90s Disney movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream The Nightmare Before Christmas and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Nightmare Before”
- 5. Start streaming
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’: Overview
Release Date: October 29, 1993
Creators: Directed by Henry Selick, Produced and created by Tim Burton, Screenplay by Caroline Thompson
Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.
Synopsis: Jack Skellington, King of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home cause confusion.
How Long Is ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’?
The Nightmare Before Christmas has a runtime of 76 minutes.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Plot
Halloween Town is a world filled with monsters, ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, witches, mummies, and more. The leader of the town is Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who leads them through their annual Halloween celebrations year after year. Jack has grown very tired of the same routine and longs for something new to shake up his world. Wandering in the woods one morning, he finds a portal to Christmas Town, an unfamiliar holiday that sparks his interest. He returns to Halloween Town to present his findings, but his constituents fail to grasp the concept of Christmas although they are drawn to one particular character they call “Sandy Claws.” Jack makes the executive decision that he and the citizens of Halloween Town will take over Christmas this year.
Jack assigns his to-do list to the citizens of Halloween Town, including singing carols, making presents, and building a sleigh to be pulled by skeletal reindeer. Sally, a ragdoll secretly in love with Jack, worries that Jacks’s efforts will lead to disaster, but he continues forth anyways, ordering trick-or-treating punks Lock, Shock, and Barrel to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him back to Halloween Town. Unbeknownst to Jack, the kids deliver Santa to Oogie Boogie, a dangerous gambling-addicted boogeyman who winds up capturing Sally as well.
Jack heads out on Christmas Eve but his Halloween-styled gifts terrify and attack the citizens of Christmas Town. The military shoots him out of the sky as Jack laments the disaster he has made. Now, Jack must save Santa and Sally from Oogie Boogie’s clutches. Once rescued, Santa returns to his Town to save Christmas for his people, while the folks of Halloween Town celebrate Jack’s return as he realizes he should appreciate what he has.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Cast
Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman as Jack Skellington
Two different voice actors help bring Jack Skellington to life. Sarandon handles Jack’s speaking voice, while Elfman handles all of the singing duties. Elfman also voices Barrel, one of the trick-or-treaters working for Oogie Boogie in addition to Clown with the Tear-Away Face, the clown who rides a unicycle.
Catherine O’Hara as Sally
Sally is a ragdoll creation of the mad Doctor Finklestein and the growing love interest of Jack. She’s also psychic and has premonitions when anything bad is about to happen. O’Hara previously co-starred in another one of Burton’s productions: 1988’s Beetlejuice. She can now be seen in the Canadian comedy Schitt’s Creek.
William Hickey as Doctor Finklestein
Doctor Finklestein is a mad scientist and the creator of Sally. In the film’s official credits he’s listed only as “Evil Scientist”; he’s only mentioned by name once in the movie.
Glenn Shadix as Mayor of Halloween Town
The Mayor conducts most of the meetings in Halloween Town. His mood swings from happy to distraught as his head spins between a happy and sad face. (He’s literally a two-faced politician.) Shadix also co-starred in Burton’s Beetlejuice alongside O’Hara.
Ken Page as Oogie Boogie
Oogie Boogie is the villainous boogeyman in Halloween Town who has a passion for gambling. Four years before Nightmare, Page voiced King Gator in All Dogs Go To Heaven.
Ed Ivory as Santa Claus
Santa Claus is the leader of Christmas Town who is kidnapped by Lock, Shock, and Barrel. In addition to playing Santa, Ivory does the brief narration at the start of the movie.
Paul Reubens as Lock
Reubens voices Lock, one of the trick-or-treaters working for Oogie Boogie. Reubens, famously known as Pee-wee Herman, has also previously worked with Burton on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Batman Returns (1992).
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Songs and Soundtrack
A fun fact about the movie and its soundtrack is that Patrick Stewart (Star Trek) originally recorded narration for the film’s prologue and epilogue. While his narration was eventually cut in the editing room and not used in the movie, his voiceovers are included on the soundtrack album.
The tracklist for The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack is as follows:
1. “Overture (score)”
3. “This Is Halloween”
4. “Jack’s Lament”
5. “Doctor Finklestein/In the Forest (score)”
6. “What’s This?”
7. “Town Meeting Song”
8. “Jack and Sally Montage (score)”
9. “Jack’s Obsession”
10. “Kidnap the Sandy Claws”
11. “Making Christmas”
12. “Nabbed (score)”
13. “Oogie Boogie’s Song”
14. “Sally’s Song”
15. “Christmas Eve Montage (score)”
16. “Poor Jack”
17. “To the Rescue (score)”
20. “End Title (score)”
The soundtrack also received a special edition release when the movie was re-released in 3-D in 2006. The new version included a bonus disc that contained covers of five of the film’s songs by popular artists such as Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Marilyn Manson, Fiona Apple, and, She Wants Revenge.
In 2008, another version was released called Nightmare Revisited, which included all covers by popular artists. Marilyn Manson’s “This Is Halloween” carried over from the 2006 re-release. Other artists like Flyleaf, The All-American Rejects, The Polyphonic Spree, Korn, Rise Against, Amy Lee, Datarock, Shiny Toy Guns, and more contributed covers of Nightmare classics.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ at the Box Office
The Nightmare Before Christmas earned $75,082,668 worldwide according to Box Office Mojo. It had an overall ranking of 27 for the year it came out. Its rank for PG movies alone was 10.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
The Nightmare Before Christmas holds a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The site wrote, “The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.”
Unsurprisingly, the movie was praised for its stop-motion animation, originality, music, and message. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Part avant-garde art film, part amusing but morbid fairy tale, it is a delightfully ghoulish holiday musical that displays more inventiveness in its brief 75 minutes than some studios can manage in an entire year.”
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker praised its animation style and “magic-toy shop feeling,” while Desmond Ryan of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about Burton’s creativity. “Burton, the man who gave us Batman, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, is incapable of a conventional idea. His take on the holiday fairy tale is delightfully off the wall.”
Other critics give the film credit for standing apart from the CGI-crowd, while also name-dropping Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice as other products of Burton’s out-of-the-box creative process.
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Trailer
The description for the official trailer (below) reads: “Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept.”
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
1. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Took 3 Years To Make Despite Its Short Runtime
Due to the challenges of stop-motion production, director Henry Selick began filming before the script was even finalized. After Elfman was finished composing and mastering most of the film’s songs, Slick along with his team of 13 animators and army of set builders, prop makers, and camera operators got to it. They began with the discovery of Christmas Town that goes with the song “What’s This?” Since they were shooting 24 frames per second, animators had to create unique images and movements for 110,000 frames total. In fact, one minute of film footage took a week to shoot, making the total production stretch to nearly three years. Selick utilized 20 sound stages and 230 model sets. Jack Skellington had over 400 heads alone to convey all of his various emotions.
2. Disney Wanted Burton and Selick To Give Jack Skellington Eyes
Originally, Disney thought Nightmare was too off-brand. To help round out the image of the film, Walt Disney Studios gave some serious studio notes, one of which was the insistence that Skellington has his empty sockets replaced with a pair of friendly eyes. Selick and Burton refused despite the fact that most animation and puppet-creations use eyes as a way to connect to audiences. That said, the creators were right and ultimately proved that Skellington could connect to kids and adults without them.
3. The Role of Santa Claus Almost Went To Vincent Price
Having previously worked with Burton on Edward Scissorhands and Vincent, Vincent Price was the original choice to voice Santa Claus in the film. The “Sandy Claws” character is supposed to be light and flustered as he’s kidnapped by trick-or-treater brats Lock, Shock, and Barrel. However, the death of Price’s wife Coral Browne in 1991 changed things. In the commentary track for the film, Selick explained that the actor was so grief-stricken that the director felt he sounded too sad for Santa. There are also reports that the actor’s health had declined after his wife’s passing and that his voice sounded frail and weak. Edward Ivory was brought in as a replacement.
4. Like Many Other Disney Films, ‘Nightmare’ Has Hidden Mickeys
According to the film’s commentary track, Disney was reluctant to let Selick and Burton include a hidden Mickey in the form of a menacing toy. According to Mental Floss, in the scene where Jack’s Christmas gifts attack, there’s a flying stuffed animal with a sharp-toothed grin that’s meant to be the Burton version of Mickey Mouse. Also, the little girl it attacks is wearing a Mickey print nightgown, while her brother’s pajamas are covered in Donald Duck’s face.
5. Burton Protected the Series From A CGI Sequel
Disney has a history of success with straight-to-DVD sequels of their hits, but Burton has no interest in making The Nightmare Before Christmas 2. He told MTV, “I was always very protective of [Nightmare Before Christmas], not to do sequels or things of that kind. You know, ‘Jack visits Thanksgiving world’ or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it. Because it’s not a mass-market kind of thing, it was important to kind of keep that purity of it. I try to respect people and keep the purity of the project as much as possible.”
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