Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, has expressed that he was asked to remove a joke focused on the decapitation of creator-producer Tim Burton.
“There’s a shot — and I really regret replacing it — at the very end of the film when Jack comes back and then Sandy Claws flies overhead and there is snow and Christmas comes to Halloween Town,” Selick said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter as part of the beloved stop-motion animated film’s 25th-anniversary celebration.
“We show a lot of Halloween Towners enjoying winter sports and snow and you see the vampires playing hockey and they hit the puck right at the camera — and originally it was Tim Burton’s head. And it was really funny.”
Selick recalled that the shot was filmed, but eventually removed. The shot occurs at 2:11 in the above video.
“And [producer] Denise Di Novi or one of the Hollywood producers told me, ‘I don’t think Tim’s going to like that.’ And I feel so stupid for not just asking him,” Selick continued.
“But that’s one of the shots that we reshot and we put in a pumpkin instead. I don’t know if that shot still exists, but I’d love to replace the one in there and I’m sure Tim would love it.”
Burton famously created The Nightmare Before Christmas while he was a cast member of Walt Disney Feature Animation. He developed a three-page poem that was the basis of the animated feature film a little more than a decade later. At the time, Tim Burton was busy working on the sequel to his 1989’s blockbuster Batman, so Selick was hired to direct Nightmare Before Christmas.
Disney fired Tim Burton in 1984 because he created the short film Frankenweenie, the company considered it a waste of money due to its subject matter and it was declared to be too scary for children.
“Nightmare was a gift to Tim to come back, and they hoped he’d do films as successful as Batman,” Selick revealed.
“[Tim and I] reconnected, and he told me Danny Elfman was going to write some songs and there was going to be a script by Michael McDowell who had done Beetlejuice. And then we were off to the races.”
This Disney Classic grossed $75 million in the original theatrical run, later reissued to theaters in the 3D format in 2006. Nightmare became such a huge favorite by fans that it propelled a constant stream of merchandise and INSPIRED a yearly holiday-themed overlay at Disneyland’s iconic Haunted Mansion attraction.
Recently, The Nightmare Before Christmas, was re-released to Blu-ray as a special sing-along edition celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The Hollywood Reporter (October 27, 2018): “Nightmare Before Christmas’ Director on the Tim Burton Joke He Had to Cut”: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/nightmare-before-christmas-was-forced-cut-joke-tim-burton-1154243