The Sixth Day of Christmas: The Nightmare Before Christmas – Is it Really a Christmas Movie?

By: Kimbit

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those movies that you will find on most Christmas lists but also on Halloween movie lists. So wait, is it a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?

the-nightmare-before-christmasIt’s a confusing time.

Why you might consider it a Halloween movie;

The Nightmare Before Christmas was released on October 29, 1993, during the Halloween season as opposed to the Christmas season (generally between November and December). It was released by Touchstone Pictures which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. This distribution label was commonly used to distribute darker themed movies too mature to be released under the Disney brand (not used this way anymore). The movie is much darker than the average family film and even the Christmas portions of the film have spooky undertones, though the film is only rated PG.

84109-oogie-boogie-halloween-jack-skellington-nightmare-before-christmasBut look! A Christmas tree!

The movie was marketed with Tim Burton’s name above the title to draw in an audience familiar with his other darker adult movies. If it was planned to be marketed more as a family Christmas movie, Tim Burton’s name likely wouldn’t need to be used this way. Also, the original theatrical trailer appears focus about half on Halloween Town and half about Christmas, but the Christmas scenes include the kidnap of Santa Claus, the snake eating the Christmas tree and the severed head as a Christmas gift. This enforces the idea that this was always intended to be marketed as a Halloween movie.

The director of the movie, Henry Selick stated last year at a film festival in Colorado that he believes it is a Halloween movie since it is ultimately about the people of Halloween Town and their reaction to Christmas rather than being about Christmas itself. Also don’t forget its most memorable song, “This is Halloween”!

nightmare-before-christmas-variantThere are also more Halloween themed pictures
in my Google Images search…

Why you might consider it a Christmas movie;

While most of the movie takes place in Halloween Town there are a few scenes in Christmas Town as well. One major scene is Jack discovering Christmas Town for the first time and wanting to be a part of the fun and magic of Christmas. This scene and song captures a lot of the holiday spirit that comes along with Christmas every year, even though it is only about 3 minutes long.

During the song What’s This, Jack realizes that he wants Christmas Town for his own, or at least the feelings that the town makes him feel. He is inspired to take over the holiday even though it ends up not being for the betterment of Christmas Town. While Jack was trying to do something he thought would be beneficial for Christmas Town and also make himself feel whole and happy again, he realizes that he has made a mistake and that Santa needs to be able to do his job. Jack’s realization of this also helps him understand his place in Halloween Town and the love for Sally.

christmas-townWhat a lovely snowman, wouldn’t it be nice if someone ripped it apart?

This plot lays out a common theme in Christmas movies. Protagonist feels unhappy with current situation and desires more. Protagonist makes poor decisions in an attempt to make themselves or their family happier. Through a sequence of events protagonist realizes they have made a mistake and realize the true meaning of Christmas, making them happier and bringing them closer to family or their love.

Also Tim Burton pitched the original idea of the story to TV stations as Christmas special but it was never picked up. Tim Burton stated that he was inspired by the Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday specials (such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).


So what do you think? Is The Nightmare Before Christmas actually a Christmas movie? I think it can be both but it will probably still depend on your personal preferences as to which holiday you will decide to watch it near. Let us know in the comments.



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