As writer Burton’s upbringing in Burbank, California, was associated with the feeling of solitude, the filmmaker was largely fascinated by holidays during his childhood. “Anytime there was Christmas or Halloween, […] it was great. It gave you some sort of texture all of a sudden that wasn’t there before”, Burton would later recall. After completing his short film Vincent in 1982, Burton, who was then employed at Walt Disney Feature Animation, wrote a three-page poem titled The Nightmare Before Christmas, drawing inspiration from television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. Burton intended to adapt the poem into a television special with the narration spoken by his favorite actor, Vincent Price, but also considered other options such as a children’s book. He created concept art and storyboards for the project in collaboration with Rick Heinrichs, who also sculpted character models; Burton later showed his and Heinrichs’ works-in-progress to Henry Selick, also a Disney animator at the time. After the success of Vincent in 1982, Disney started to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute holiday television special. However, the project’s development eventually stalled, as its tone seemed “too weird” to the company. As Disney was unable to “offer his nocturnal loners enough scope”, Burton was fired from the studio in 1984, and went on to direct the commercially successful films Beetlejuice and Batman.

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