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Nightmare Before Christmas 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

In the 1980s, Tim Burton made the mainstream macabre with massive hits like "Batman," "Beetlejuice," and "Edward Scissorhands." In the 1990s, he upped the ante by co-writing and producing a dark but family-friendly film for the ages: the stop-motion-animated classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas." This creepy-cute musical follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, as he finds his way to Christmas Town and tries to take it over.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" enchanted millions, made nearly $100 million, and helped popularize a novel and eye-popping form of animation. It's become one of the most consistently popular entries in the canons of both Halloween and Christmas movies, and moves a lot of merchandise, even 30 years later. Notably, the original film suggests that Jack Skellington and his spooky crew could explore the mythology and traditions of other major holidays besides Halloween and Christmas. Good fodder for a sequel, right?

Though a follow-up seems like a foregone conclusion, one has yet to see the light of night. We're here to examine why Hollywood has never quite gotten around to making "The Nightmare Before Christmas 2" — and to take a look into why there could still be hope for an expansion of the franchise in some form.

Why isn't The Nightmare Before Christmas 2 happening yet?

Disney released "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to movie theaters in 1993; any sequel would fall under their purview, with the blessing and participation of Henry Selick and Tim Burton. As "The Nightmare Before Christmas" became a cultural touchstone, Disney has indeed attempted to put a sequel into production before — specifically, in the 2000s. But executives and filmmakers disagreed on what it should explore and how it should be made. "[A] sequel has come up several times. Initially, they always said, 'But it will have to be CG,'" Selick told Collider. "And that was a non-starter for me. It certainly was for Tim Burton."

Burton has little interest in a continuation. "I was always very protective, not to do sequels or things of that kind," he told MTV in 2006. "You know, 'Jack visits Thanksgiving world' or other kinds of things just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it." In 2023, he doubled down on this sentiment, telling Empire, "I've done sequels, I've done other things, I've done reboots, I've done all that s***, right? I don't want that to happen to this. It's nice that people are maybe interested [in another one], but I'm not. I feel like that old guy who owns a little piece of property and won't sell to the big power-plant that wants to take my land."

Apparently undeterred, Disney explored the possibility of making a sequel to "The Nightmare Before Christmas," or a live-action remake, in 2019. The latter approach would have likely been in the style of recent re-do projects like "Beauty and Beast," "Aladdin," and "Dumbo" (which Burton directed). A credible insider leaked the news to Moviehole, but that movie apparently never transpired.

What the cast and crew have said about The Nightmare Before Christmas 2

Several individuals involved with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" have expressed their thoughts on a return to the franchise. "If [Tim Burton] had a fresh take on it, I would certainly go for the ride with him," composer (and Jack Skellington's singing voice) Danny Elfman told ComicBook.com. "But he's never expressed any interest in that. I think he felt like this was a pure thing and it was what it was and that to try to do sequels on it would, I think it's just not inspired him." 

Chris Sarandon, who provided Jack Skellington's speaking voice, seemed noncommittal in 2022. "Essentially, I have nothing to do with it," he told "The Art of Kindness" podcast (via Collider). "I'm the hired gun in this equation. And whether it would be me in a sequel or not, I don't know." A year later, Sarandon had more enthusiasm. "If there were a sequel, I'd be there in a minute," he told People.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" director Henry Selick has some ideas about how to revisit the project. "I think that Tim might be open to a short," Selick told Collider in 2022. "It would have to be so refreshing ... such a new take to justify making a sequel, but a short makes good sense." In 2023, Selick proposed another angle. "It might be more interesting to do a prequel," he told People. "There might be a more interesting story there about how Jack became the King of Halloweentown."

What could be explored in The Nightmare Before Christmas 2?

While Tim Burton has disdained the notion of a sequel that sees Jack explore other holiday-centric worlds, no one can deny there's real storytelling potential in such an idea. In the original movie, Jack finds a grove of trees leading to realms based on Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter, among other holidays. Seeing him plunge into, say, a world full of colorful eggs and giant bunnies would be undeniably fun. Another idea might be to reverse the action of the original movie and have denizens of those other worlds explore Halloween Town. Who's to say there isn't a pink, lace-covered monarch of Valentine's Day Town longing for a life beyond heart-shaped candy?

As Henry Selick has suggested, a prequel might also be an interesting route. How did Jack rise to power? Have the holiday realms always looked the way they do? What happens to these fascinating lands when people stop celebrating their holiday? Is there a decrepit ruin somewhere of what was once Saturnalia Town? The possibilities are endless.

Who would star in The Nightmare Before Christmas 2?

If a sequel to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" were to enter production, the filmmakers would do their best to capture as much of the first film's magic as possible. That necessarily includes reassembling the original cast. Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman portrayed Jack Skellington as the character's speaking and singing voices, respectively. Sarandon is still a working actor and Elfman has been instrumental to many Tim Burton films. Catherine O'Hara, who's been enjoying an Emmy-laden career renaissance following her starring role on "Schitt's Creek," would almost certainly portray Sally in "The Nightmare Before Christmas 2," which would round out the main cast.

What about the supporting cast? Paul Reubens portrayed Lock in "The Nightmare Before Christmas," following big roles in previous Burton projects like "Batman Returns" and "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." In 2010, he told Dread Central that he'd be excited to work with the filmmaker again, particularly in a "Nightmare Before Christmas" sequel rumored to be in the works at the time. That film never got off the ground, but Reubens would definitely be involved if it ever does enter production.

Jack and Sally have returned plenty of times

Fans of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" have yet to see a sequel to the 1993 classic materialize, and in truth, one might never arrive. Nevertheless, other artists in other mediums have taken more than a few return trips to Halloween Town. Comics publisher Tokyopop released spin-off "Zero's Journey" in 2018, which follows Zero, Jack Skellington's beloved dog, as he gets lost and found just before Halloween. In 2022, Disney released "Long Live the Pumpkin Queen," a direct sequel to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" in the form of a novel. Penned by fantasy author Shea Ernshaw, this story focuses on newlywed Sally Skellington and her trepidation about her new role as Queen of Halloween Town. 

2005's "The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge" is another sequel, this time in the form of a video game. Released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2005, it follows Lock, Shock, and Barrel as they reconstruct Oogie Boogie, who usurps control of Halloween Town when Jack Skellington leaves in search of new holiday frights.