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Why We Never Got Nightmare Before Christmas 2

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a beloved classic, one of the most singularly quirky and amazing animated films, holiday movies, and musicals of all time, all rolled into one. Coming from the mind of producer Tim Burton and bearing his distinct visual stamp, the stop-motion animated feature has become a staple of the holidays since its 1993 release; you can watch it at any time during the last three months of the year, and it feels seasonally appropriate.

Just in case you happen to be unfamiliar, the flick tells the story of Jack Skellington, the leader of Halloween Town (voiced when speaking by Chris Sarandon, and when singing by the great Danny Elfman). One year, Jack decides that he's getting a little bored with Halloween — and when he stumbles upon Christmas Town, he decides that he and the denizens of his creepy burg will be the ones to bring that festive holiday to the world for just one year.

Of course, these plans go creepily and delightfully awry, and in the end, Jack learns why the gift-giving and sleigh bell jingling are best left to Santa. One of the true joys of The Nightmare Before Christmas is how amazingly true it is to the tone and spirit of both holidays, and it's easy to see why the film has become a yearly tradition for so many. But considering its financial and critical success and its impact on the world of pop culture, what's not so easy to puzzle out is why we never got a sequel to the classic film. We decided to take a deep dive to discover: why did we never get The Nightmare Before Christmas 2?

Disney wanted to make a CGI Nightmare Before Christmas 2

When talking about a potential sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas, it helps to know that it's not like the idea hasn't been kicked around. In particular, the film's director Henry Selick — who would go on to work on two additional stop-motion features, 2006's James and the Giant Peach and 2009's Coraline — has gone on record stating that while he could be enticed to return to Halloween Town, the notion was complicated by studio Disney. It seems that the House of Mouse was only interested in a sequel to the classic on one specific condition — one that Selick wasn't too keen on.

In a 2009 interview, Selick revealed that discussions about a sequel had in fact taken place. "A few years back, Disney spoke to me and the sad thing was at the time, they said, 'If we do a sequel, it will have to be CG.' I was really disappointed," the director remembered. "I asked why, and they didn't think stop-motion was a viable way to make movies... I don't think Tim would allow a CG sequel. There's been a few stories proposed and a few discussions, but that's really Tim's decision."

In sharing this, Selick hit upon one major roadblock to any sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas: Burton, who first conceived the story and characters in a poem he wrote as a young man in the early '80s.

Tim Burton didn't want to make Nightmare Before Christmas 2

It may not surprise you to learn that Burton wrote his poem while in the throes of a wicked fever, which he says is why the idea stuck with him for so long. He'd originally intended to make The Nightmare Before Christmas a short film of perhaps 30 minutes, but after having that idea repeatedly shot down throughout the '80s, the filmmaker ultimately took the project to Disney, which improbably agreed to produce it as a feature. Over those years, Jack and the residents of Halloween Town had become understandably close to Burton's heart — and in a 2006 interview with MTV News, Burton indicated that he may not be terribly open to the idea of any sequel, CG or otherwise.

"I was always very protective of [the movie], not to do sequels or things of that kind. 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," Burton said. "Because it's not a mass-market kind of thing, it was important to kind of keep that purity of it."

That's certainly understandable, but even if some persistent executive had been able to convince Burton to make The Nightmare Before Christmas 2 any way he wanted, there were many years during which it just wouldn't have been possible — because the filmmaker wasn't speaking to his star.

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman fell out while making Nightmare Before Christmas

In case you're not familiar with Danny Elfman, you should know that you are, in fact, familiar with Danny Elfman. The former front man for new wave pioneers Oingo Boingo, Elfman has composed so much music for film and television that it'd be virtually impossible to have never heard any of his work. His film credits are far too numerous to list here, and on the TV side, suffice to say that the man composed the theme to The Simpsons, a show you may have heard of.

Elfman has worked with Burton on no fewer than 16 films, and during the course of their long professional relationship, the two famously eccentric personalities didn't always play nice together. In a 2015 interview, Elfman revealed that the pair had a big blowup right after work on The Nightmare Before Christmas was completed — one which would have kept Jack's singing voice from participating in any sequel for some time.

"It was in the middle of a very intense period... and I think things came to a boil," Elfman recalled. "It's inevitable that in over a quarter of a century, two personalities like us — and I can't pretend that I'm not volatile and was more so then — there's gotta be some kind of explosion." The pair resolved their differences several years later, but they did lose a lot of time during which The Nightmare Before Christmas was fresh in the minds of the moviegoing public.

The unofficial Nightmare Before Christmas sequels

When it comes to the possibility of making a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas today, the notion is complicated by the fact that the flick has already gotten sequels of sorts — just not exactly official ones, and they never showed up in any theaters. Most notably, there's the ongoing comic book series Zero's Journey, which focuses on Jack's efforts to recover his lost pup Zero with the help of the denizens of Christmas Town. The series began publication in May of 2018, and will tell its complete, self-contained story over a 20-issue run.

There's also The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, a 2004 video game released for the Playstation 2 and original Xbox. The game's extensive story tells of the villainous Oogie Boogie's takeover of Halloween town, and Jack's efforts to defeat him with assistance from Sally and Santa Claus. More than anything else, though, the game might serve as an example of what not to do when crafting a proper sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas, as it repeated many of the plot beats from the movie and failed to introduce any interesting new settings or characters.

To be sure, the original film would be a tough act to follow, even assuming that Burton, Elfman, and Selick could be coaxed back on board. You may have heard, however, that the House of Mouse has recently been diving into its archives in pursuit of box office gold — meaning that if we ever do get more Nightmare Before Christmas, it may not necessarily be in the form of a sequel.

Could The Nightmare Before Christmas get a live-action remake?

Disney's recent live-action remakes of its classic animated properties have, for the most part, done bonkers box office. Interestingly, the sole outlier is 2019's Dumbo, a comparative flop that just happened to have been directed by Tim Burton — not that this would keep Disney from eyeing The Nightmare Before Christmas for the live-action treatment.

In fact, it's recently been rumored that the studio is considering doing just that — and these rumors surfaced early in 2019, before Aladdin and The Lion King each scored over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. With Mulan, The Little Mermaid, and more looking to continue the trend, it stands to reason that the Mouse House might be taking a hard look at their stop-motion holiday classic for possible live-action adaptation.

Of course, it should be stressed that these are merely rumors and are in no way confirmed — but at this point, a live-action redo seems a lot more likely than a stop-motion sequel. Honestly, we'll take either one — just for the chance to see Jack the Pumpkin King back up on the big screen one more time.