1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, remains an all-time classic, one of the most instantly recognizable and merchandisable movies around. So why exactly hasn’t Disney ever made a sequel?
After all, Disney loves sequels. Few of its popular properties have dodged the obligatory continuation, let alone dodged it for 30 straight years. But Nightmare’s missing sequel isn’t due to a lack of trying on Disney’s part.
Over the last 30 years, the House of Mouse has tried more than a few times to get an official Nightmare sequel off the ground, only to be met by objections from Burton and Selick. Here are all the attempts to get another set of skeletal reindeer to fly — that we know about — and a few of the ways that Disney has managed to continue the story of Jack Skellington, Sally, and Halloween Town without officially making a sequel.
A direct sequel
Disney’s first real foray into sequel territory with The Nightmare Before Christmas started in about 2002, according to Selick in a 2008 interview with About.com, nearly a decade after the release of the original film. The director, who has grounded his career in the medium of stop-motion animation, said that Disney wanted to ditch the stop-motion look of the first movie in favor of CG for the sequel, which he called unsettling. Selick does admit, however, that the idea of having Jack Skellington invade other holidays is certainly a tempting one for a return to the character.
Burton, who created The Nightmare Before Christmas and produced the movie, on the other hand, says that he’s always been opposed to a sequel. In 2006, he told MTV that he’s protective of the franchise and doesn’t like the idea of “Jack visits Thanksgiving world,” which he thought would ruin the purity of the original.
Though a sequel has never actually gotten off the ground, Selick doesn’t completely dismiss it. In an interview with Blastr in 2009, the director said he’d be open to a sequel if Burton came up with the right story. “It would have to depend. It’s a hard thing to top in terms of story. That particular collision of nightmares is perfect. I don’t know if Jack Skellington trying to take over President’s Day weekend would be as good.”
Of course, three decades after the original movie, it’s safe to say the pair hasn’t landed on the right story just yet.
The first real sequel
Nightmare Before Christmas technically has a couple of multimedia sequels, but the first one to actually get released was a video game called The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge. The hack-and-slash action game was developed by Tose, with a development team that actively sought the advice of several people connected to the film. In fact, the development team flew to Burton’s place in England with a PlayStation 2 in hand in order to get his advice on things like the art style for the game. The movie’s art director, Deane Taylor, was also involved in development.
The live-action version
For several years, since the dawn of Disney’s line of live-action remakes, a rumor has persisted that a live-action remake of The Nightmare Before Christmas was on the way.
Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to have been any noise of this beyond rumors, but it’s clear that Disney is still exploring the property. No surprise considering how popular it’s been for the last 30 years!
The second real sequel
Another sort-of sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas actually came relatively recently. In 2022, Disney released a book called Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, written by Shea Ernshaw, which follows Sally as the main character after the events of the movie.
Even though she’s married Jack, Sally feels out of place as Halloween Town’s new Pumpkin Queen. But when she finds a doorway to somewhere called Dream Town, she unleashes a threat to Halloween Town that only she can stop. The book explores some of the other holiday lands near Halloween Town, and the greater powers that govern them.
Long Live the Pumpkin Queen is also getting a sequel sometime in the near future from Megan Shepherd, who also wrote the Nightmare Before Christmas tie-in novelization, which only came out in July.
Despite this smattering of random follow-ups, spinoffs, and failed projects, it’s still surprising that Disney has never successfully gotten a full sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas off the ground. But with Selick still somewhat interested, at least as of a decade ago, it’s possible Burton could decide that it’s time to revisit Jack and Sally and their journey through Halloween Town.