The posters for the movie all read Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. But officially, technically, and any way you slice it, Tim Burton did not direct the film. The director of Nightmare Before Christmas is Henry Selick, the stop-motion animator who also made James and the Giant Peach and Coraline. Burton created the story and designed the characters, but he didn’t direct the actual film.
Still, because of the possessive title on the poster, most people just assume that Burton directed Nightmare — something that Selick himself called “a bit unfair” in a recent interview with The A.V. Club for his new movie, Wendell & Wild. As Selick put it, the whole titling of the film, and the confusion that followed…
…was a little unfair because it wasn’t called Tim Burton’s Nightmare until three weeks before the film came out. And I would have been fine with that, if that’s what I signed up for. But Tim was in L.A. making two features while I directed that film, and I mean, Tim is a genius—or he certainly was in his most creative years. 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 that to life.
Do you detect any shade in the phrase “he certainly was in his most creative years”? Maybe a smidge?
If I was Selick, I’d be a bit perturbed too. He directed one of the most beloved movies of the 1990s, and I would guess 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 making of the movie — he was. But Selick was as well.
Selick’s new movie, Wendell & Wild, is now streaming on Netflix. Once again, Selick has teamed with a dynamic director: Jordan Peele. But while Peele and Selick co-wrote the film together, Selick is yet again the sole credited director. But this one’s not titled Jordan Peele’s Wendell & Wild.