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The Nightmare Before Christmas is required Haloween/Christmas viewing for many, but one of the film's best moments never made it to the final cut. Director Henry Selick recently revealed that his original version of the classic film included a stop-motion model of the severed head of his producer, Tim Burton, that he was forced to cut, though he would love to put it back in if that's ever possible. According to Selick...
There's a shot --- and I really regret replacing it --- at the very end of the film when Jack comes back and then Sandy Claws flies overhead and there's snow and Christmas comes to Halloween Town. We show a lot of Halloween Towners enjoying winter sports and snow and you see the vampires playing hockey and they hit the puck right at the camera --- and originally it was Tim Burton's head. And it was really funny. And Denise Di Novi or one of the Hollywood producers told me, 'I don't think Tim's going to like that.' And I feel so stupid for not just asking him. But that's one of the shots that we reshot and we put in a pumpkin instead. I don't know if that shot still exists, but I'd love to replace the one in there and I'm sure Tim would love it.
When a producer suggested that Tim Burton wouldn't appreciate having his skull used as a hockey puck, apparently director Henry Selick simply acquiesced to the idea and replaced the shot, something that was somewhat more complicated to do considering that The Nightmare Before Christmas was entirely a stop-motion animation production. Today, Selick thinks that Burton would actually love the joke, so much so that, if the original footage still exists, he'd like to put it back in the movie.
On the one hand, it seems unlikely that anybody would bother inserting a few seconds of "new" footage into The Nightmare Before Christmas, although, if the clip is sitting on a shelf someplace then it wouldn't exactly require a lot of work to do, and Nightmare sees frequent re-releases in theaters every holiday season, so the replaced scene wouldn't go unnoticed if it was done, as old and new fans find the movie every year.
You can see the final version of the scene with the pumpkin that replaced Tim Burton's head in the clip below.
It does seem odd that Henry Selick never actually asked Tim Burton if he was ok with the joke. Of course, if Selick was led to believe that Burton wouldn't like it, as he tells THR, then he probably didn't want to ask, as that would make his producer aware of the joke. Still, it seems unlikely that the man behind movies like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands would take issue with a slightly morbid joke at his own expense.
It' the 25th anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas this month, so give the film a re-watch and just pretend Tim Burton's severed head is a hockey puck, as it was always meant to be.