Featured Attractions

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Weird Wednesdays: Disney's Lament

When Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas was first greenlit, it was supposed to be released under the Walt Disney Pictures banner. The studio was in the midst of its second golden age and had begun releasing one animated film per year. With its release for 1993 delayed- The Lion King wouldn't reach theaters until the next year- Tim Burton's bizarre stop motion picture was seen as an unofficial way to fill the gap between Aladdin and The Lion King.

However, the studio got cold feet. Nightmare was seen as being too dark, too different and too scary for the Disney name. Despite using the Disney logo on the original movie trailer and on Walt Disney Home Video Coming Attractions, the name was stripped from the film, which ended up getting released under the Touchstone Pictures umbrella. This confusion may have been the reason the film underperformed at the box office and with merchandise sales.

As the years went on, however, the film was rediscovered by audiences. Merchandise that had sat in discount bins in 1993 became highly sought after. The original Sally doll was regularly fetching $800 on eBay. Disney executives finally became interested. Could this overlooked film become something more? The company tested a small line of merchandise featuring Jack. It sold out quickly. Soon hundreds of licensees were lining up to produce Nightmare merchandise. An inspired idea to temporarily turn DISNEYLAND's Haunted Mansion into the Jack Skellington themed Haunted Mansion Holiday further generated interest.

Guests accepted Jack and Sally as Disney characters. The company soon realized it had made a mistake releasing the film under the Touchstone name. The film is now marketed as pure Disney.