Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Gets a Major Upgrade

jack skellington in disney's the nightmare before christmas
Credit: Disney/Canva

A Disney cult classic directed by Tim Burton is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the film is getting a major upgrade as part of the celebration, thanks to Disney.

RELATED: Johnny Depp to Star in Live-Action “Nightmare Before Christmas” in the Works at Disney

The Nightmare Before Christmas: 18 Spooky Facts About The Movie

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney Studios’ most famous Halloween-themed film, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its theatrical release later this year. Though it earned mediocre revenue at the box office at the time of its initial release, the film has continued to make money in each of its subsequent re-releases and grow its fan-following over the years.

The story of Jack Skellington and his discovery of a strange new holiday called “Christmas” was originally inspired by a poem written by Burton when he was working for Disney as an animator. But initially, Walt Disney Pictures wanted no part of the film that would become The Nightmare Before Christmas wasn’t a film the House of Mouse wanted to make initially.

jack skellington disney's the nightmare before christmas

Credit: Disney

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is an Extremely Detailed Work of Art

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas was released at the box office in 1993 and was the very first full-length stop-motion animation film ever created. As a first-of-its-kind release, the film boasts some amazing intricate artistic details that have lent themselves to the film’s popularity over the past three decades.

Even diehard Nightmare fans might not realize that there are more than 227 animated characters in the film–some of which are extremely complex. Jack Skellington had more than 400 separate interchangeable heads, and each one was handcrafted with a different facial expression that aided in bringing a realness to Jack. The head of the Santa Claus character in the film had more than 50 working parts to it, and the tiniest working “puppet” in the film was a doll Jack found when he visits the “real world,” and it measured only one inch in length. Additionally, Sally’s miniature dress is laid on top of foam latex so that the fabric of the dress didn’t move too much during filming.

disney's the nightmare before christmas

Credit: Disney

During the peak of production of the film, animators worked extremely long days. Even so, they were only able to produce approximately 70 seconds of finished film each week.

Disney+ Launches and Changes How Fans Watch Disney Films. At Least for a While.

Disney+ launched in November 2019, just before the global coronavirus pandemic unleashed its fury. Over a short period of time, several streaming platforms rolled out for the first time, leaving home video collectors a little uneasy–especially those who collected Disney videos. The unveiling of Disney’s new streaming service meant the end of the beloved “Disney Vault,” which had served to limit the supply of releases of classic Disney films, thus boosting demand for the films.

Disney has a real Disney Vault. Here it is. | DisneyExaminer

Credit: The Disney Examiner

Videos were still available for purchase after Disney+ joined the ranks–but on a smaller scale than ever before, and nearly everything a Disney fan could ever want to watch could be found somewhere in the vast–and continually growing–Disney+ catalog. Before the birth of Disney+, the company showed a steady dedication to restoring its classics with the latest technology, but with Disney+ on the scene, some fans questioned whether The Walt Disney Company would have any motivation to continue that cadence.

Soon, however, Disney+ began to see a slump in new subscriber sign-ups, and a gradual resurgence began to be seen in the home video market, though not to the level of pre-streaming demand. Although it’s not clear what has led to the slight peak in the market, it’s possible that one culprit is the company’s recent removal of fan-favorite offerings from the Disney+ catalog.

RELATED: Disney is Removing More Than 50 Films, Shows, and Series From Disney+. Again.

A Disney Princess Gets a Facelift

Now, nearly four years after the initial launch of Disney’s streaming service, Disney has released two fan-favorite films, and fans can watch them in a way they’ve never experienced. Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece Cinderella was released in 4K HDR on August 25, 2023. The brilliantly restored version of Disney’s tale of a scullery girl-turned-princess has never been so beautiful, and the differences between the restored version and the original 1950 version are undeniable.

The original Cinderella will receive a 4K restoration on Disney+ August 25th. : r/DisneyPlus

Credit: Screenshot, Walt Disney Animation/Reddit

RELATED: Disney’s “Cinderella” is Hiding Several Secrets, But We’re Unveiling Them Here

But Cinderella is in good (albeit spooky) company this year, as the House of Mouse has also released a fully-restored version of Tim Burton’s film brainchild.

A “Nightmare” in High-Definition: Delightfully More Spooky Than Ever 

Also in August 2023, The Walt Disney Company released a completely restored version of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, giving the film the ultimate upgrade. Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie, Lock, Shock, Barrel, the two-faced Mayor (quite literally), and 220 other characters can now be seen in all their spooky 4K brilliance.

jack skellington in disney's the nightmare before christmas restored 4k HDR edition

Scene from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 4K/Credit: Disney

In a post at Polygon, Editor-in-Chief Chris Plante gives a raving review of the newly restored 4K HDR upgrade to Tim Burton’s classic Halloween-Christmas-Halloween flick, saying, “The restoration is crisp and clean, without going so far as to digitally remove film grain and the little flaws of the actual film material that give this movie a different texture than the familiar sheen of modern digital photography.”
Plante continues by saying, “What makes this disc special is how the modern restoration process combined with the current state of home video benefits the particulars of the film itself. On a decent OLED TV with HDR, this film looks as good as, if not significantly better than, any time you’ve seen it in theaters. The Nightmare Before Christmas’s beauty stems from its contrast of pitch-black darkness and radiant bright light.”
“The restoration is so good,” he added, “[it] should make you consider buying movies again if you’ve been otherwise limited to streaming.”
jack skellington disney's nightmare before christmas

Credit: Disney

The newly restored 4K HDR version of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is available for purchase online at Amazon, Target.com, and other retailers.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!