Disney Rejected Tim Burton’s Classic Christmas Film For Being “Too Strange” Despite Being One of Its Best IPs

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas wasn't an instant favorite at Walt Disney Studios.

Disney Rejected Tim Burton’s Classic Christmas Film For Being “Too Strange” Despite Being One of Its Best IPs


  • Tim Burton's quirky style in the 90s wasn't always openly embraced by studios.
  • Disney thought his The Nightmare Before Christmas was too strange before it became a Christmas classic.
  • Burton eventually convinced Disney to not make a sequel to the iconic film.
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Tim Burton is one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the gothic genre, having masterminded movies like Edward Scissorhands and Batman. Despite featuring such powerful characters, Burton remains the star of his films thanks to his penchant for painting his stories with distinct visual aesthetics – a staple in all his ideas.

Tim Burton
Tim Burton. Credit: Gage Skidmore

However, in the 90s, his quirky and dark style also used to make studios apprehensive about taking bets on his stories due to fear of not being able to attract the masses. The same thing happened with The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is now considered a Christmas classic.

Read more: “I wouldn’t have taken it”: Heath Ledger Revealed He Won’t Have Played The Joker If Tim Burton Would’ve Directed The Dark Knight


Why Disney Initially Rejected Tim Burton’s Christmas Classic

It’s been 30 years since The Nightmare Before Christmas hit the theaters. The story written by Tim Burton follows Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King from Halloween Town. After getting bored with the annual Halloween celebrations, Jack comes across cheerful Christmas Town. He becomes enchanted and his obsession subsequently leads to him abducting Santa Claus.

nightmare before christmas 2
The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Made against a budget of $24 million, the Henry Selick-directed movie grossed a staggering $101.2 million at the box office, impressing fans with its soundtrack and spooky animation. However, Walt Disney Studios weren’t always very open about the musical fantasy and didn’t embrace it fully until they saw its popularity was growing significantly after its release. Speaking to People, Selick revealed:

“There was very little merchandising at first, but then Disney realized the film’s growing in popularity and they capitalized on that. And then finally, Disney called it a Disney film because originally, they were afraid it was too strange, it would damage their brand, and it was released as a Touchstone film.” (Touchstone was a former label of Walt Disney Studios.)

Once Disney realized the value of what they’ve got in their hands, they took the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and, for Halloween, turned it into a Nightmare Before Christmas thing, as per the director of the movie.


Read more: “I would do anything”: Johnny Depp Once Said He Would “Have S*x With an aardvark” For Edward Scissorhands’ Director Tim Burton

Why Tim Burton Suggested Disney to Not Make a Sequel of His Christmas Classic

Chris Sarandon, who portrayed Jack, revealed to People that he would absolutely be on board for a sequel and would be there in a minute.

Tim Burton and Jack Nicholson
Tim Burton and Jack Nicholson.

However, Burton has always been protective of his story. In 2021, Walt Disney Pictures considered producing a sequel to the Christmas classic but he convinced Disney to not move ahead with the plan.


“I was always very protective of [Nightmare] not to do sequels or things of that kind,” Burton explained (via IMDb). “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.”

So there we have it. Fans are unlikely to see new adventures of Pumpkin King. But those who are interested in re-living the original Burton story can catch the 1993 hit on Disney+ during the festive period.

Read more: “Even though you are a slave of Disney or Warner Brothers”: Tim Burton Hated Superman’s Cameo in Ezra Miller’s Box Office Disaster ‘The Flash’


Written by Vishal Singh

Articles Published: 514

Vishal Singh is a Content Writer at FandomWire. Having spent more than half a decade in the digital media space, Vishal specializes in crafting engaging entertainment- and sports-focused stories. He graduated from university with an honors degree in English Literature.