The recent premiere (although disastrous in terms of views) of ‘Wendell and Wild’ on Netflix has brought Henry Selick back to the fore and raised an issue that has been open for almost 30 years: Selick’s lack of recognition as director of ‘ Nightmare before Christmas’, whose authorship is usually associated before with Tim Burton.
Selick before Burton
In the same way, there are those who associate ‘The Goonies’ with Spielberg rather than with Richard Donner, many would put their hands in the fire affirming that the director of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is Tim Burton. While is true that the original idea and the characters are hisboth the direction and much of the production is by Henry Selick.
The project was initially going to be produced by Disney but the story seemed too “strange and sinister”, so in the end it was postponed and released through the Touchstone Pictures label. When it finally got going, Burton was busy directing ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and the project was left to Henry Selick.
As a result of the premiere of ‘Wendell and Wild’, Selick confessed to being fed up with your contribution which was his first film has remained invisible for more than two decades. Since its release in 1993, all the marketing and even the title (which was changed to ‘Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas’ three weeks before the premiere) revolved around the ‘Bitelchús’ filmmaker.
Selick understands that the public associates the film with Burton, since it has many of his hallmarks: the macabre atmosphere, the aesthetics of the characters and even the music of Danny Elfman. Nevertheless, considers “a little unfair” that his name practically disappeared completely of the tape:
Tim is a genius, or certainly he was in his creative years (…) I always thought his story was perfect and he designed the main characters, but it was really me and my team who brought the project to life.
The director sees nothing wrong with give credit in his movies from creators like Roald Dahl (author of the novel ‘James and the Giant Peach’), Neil Gaman (author of the novel ‘The worlds of Coraline’), jordan peele (co-writer of ‘Wendell and Wild’) or Burton himself, as long as he does not forget that the final result is the result of his effort and that of his team.
Selick’s work has been so overshadowed by Burton’s that, often, even films of his have been attributed to him in which he has not participated (mainly ‘Coraline’). If you haven’t been able to see Selick’s latest stop-riot movie yet, ‘Wendell and Wild’ is now available on Netflix.