Henry Selick Says It’s ‘A Little Unfair’ People Assume Tim Burton Directed ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’

The posters for the film have all been read Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. But officially, technically, and however you slice it, Tim Burton did does not direct the film. The director of Nightmare before Christmas is Henry Selickthe stop-motion animator who also did James and the Giant Peach and Coraline. Burton created the story and designed the characters, but he did not direct the film itself.

Still, because of the possessive title on the poster, most people just assume Burton directed Nightmares – something that Selick himself called “a little unfair” in a recent interview with AV Club for his new movie, Wendell & Wild. As Selick put it, the entire title of the film and the confusion that followed…

…was a bit unfair because it wasn’t called Tim Burton’s Nightmare until three weeks before the movie came out. And I would have been fine with that if that was what I signed up for. But Tim was in LA doing two features while I was directing that movie, and I mean, Tim is a genius—or he was certainly in his prime. I always thought his story was perfect and he designed the main characters. But it was really me and my team of people who brought it to life.

Can you detect any nuance in the phrase “he was certainly in his most creative years”? Maybe a little bit?

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Walt Disney pictures

If I were Selick, I’d be a bit disturbed too. He directed one of the most beloved films of the 1990s, and I would guess that if we asked 100 people on the street who directed it, at least 90 would say Tim Burton. That’s not to say Burton wasn’t hugely important to the film’s making – he was. But so was Selick.

Selick’s new film, Wendell & Wild, now streaming on Netflix. Once again, Selick has teamed up with a dynamic director: Jordan Peele. But while Peele and Selick co-wrote the film, Selick remains the sole credited director. But this is not the title Jordan Peele’s Wendell & Wild.

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