Henry Selick
Selick speaks on a panel during South by Southwest 2009.
Born (1952-11-30) November 30, 1952 (age 71)
EducationRutgers University
Syracuse University
California Institute of the Arts
  • Filmmaker
  • clay animator
Years active1977–present

Charles Henry Selick Jr. (/ˈsɛlɪk/; born November 30, 1952) is an American filmmaker and clay animator, best known for directing the stop-motion animated films The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Monkeybone (2001), Coraline (2009), and Wendell & Wild (2022). Selick is also known for his collaborations with the late voice actor and artist Joe Ranft.

Early life

Selick was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the son of Melanie (née Molan) and Charles H. Selick.[1][2] He was raised in Rumson.[3] Selick did little but draw from ages 3 to 12. His fascination with animation came at a young age, when he saw Lotte Reiniger's stop-motion film The Adventures of Prince Achmed and the animated creatures of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad by Ray Harryhausen. He graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven High School in 1970.[4]

After studying science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and art at Syracuse University and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, Selick eventually enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to study animation. He studied at the Program in Experimental Animation at California Institute of the Arts under the guidance of Jules Engel. His two student films there, Phases and Tube Tales, were nominated for Student Academy Awards.[5]

Film work


After his academic studies, he went to work for Walt Disney Studios as an "in-betweener" and animator trainee on such films as Pete's Dragon and The Small One. During his time at Disney, he met and worked around the likes of Rick Heinrichs, Jorgen Klubien, Brad Bird, John Musker, Dan Haskett, Sue and Bill Kroyer, Ed Gombert, Andy Gaskill, and Tim Burton. Burton served as producer on Selick's first two films as director, the Disney-produced The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Years later, Selick claimed he learned a lot to improve his drawing, animation, and storytelling skills from Disney legend Eric Larson.

Further work

Selick's third feature was Monkeybone, a live-action/stop-motion adaptation of an underground comic by 20th Century Fox. The film was a flop both commercially and critically. Selick, who animated the fictional sea creatures in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, signed on as animation director on Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox.[6] In February 2006, Selick left the project, to work on Coraline for Laika.[7] Selick, who kept in contact with Anderson, said the director would act out scenes in Fantastic Mr. Fox while in Paris and send them to the animators via iPhone.[8]

Coraline (2009)

Selick's first feature with Laika was Coraline, based on the novella Coraline by acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and released in 2009. It was the first ever stereoscopic 3D stop-motion animated film.[9] The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Coraline was nominated for Best Animated Feature as an Academy Award, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe.

Work with Pixar

Selick left Laika in 2009.[10] In 2010, Selick joined with Pixar and The Walt Disney Company in a long-term contract to exclusively produce stop-motion films.[11] This not only returned Selick to his original roots, but also reunited Selick with numerous former friends and co-animators. His new studio, called Cinderbiter Productions, was self-described as "a new stop motion company whose mandate is to make great, scary films for young 'uns with a small, tight-knit crew who watch each other's backs."[12]

Selick and Cinderbiter's first film under this deal, a project called ShadeMaker, was set to be released on October 4, 2013.[13] In 2011, the film was green-lit for production and retitled The Shadow King.[14] In August 2012, it was reported that, after spending a reported $50 million, Walt Disney Pictures canceled the project,[15] due to "a creative and scheduling standpoint, the pic wasn't where it needed to be to meet its planned release date." Selick now had the option to shop the project to another studio.[14][16] Selick later revealed in interviews that the film suffered from interference from the then CCO of Pixar John Lasseter, who Selick claimed came in and constantly changed elements of the script and production that ended up ballooning the budget.[17] In a 2022 interview, Selick said that he had reacquired the rights for The Shadow King from Disney and that he may revive the project.[18]

On April 28, 2012, it was announced that Disney had optioned the rights for Neil Gaiman's novel The Graveyard Book. Later that same day, it was announced that Selick would direct the film after work was completed on ShadeMaker. It was unknown if the adaptation would be live-action or stop motion.[19] After the studio and Selick parted ways over scheduling and development, it was announced in January 2013 that Ron Howard would direct the film.[20]

In February 2013, it was reported in a press release by Selick that K5 International would be handling sales for The Shadow King at the European Film Market.[21] It was unknown when the film would actually be released. In August 2016, a rep for Selick said the film was "in turnaround again" while Selick continued work on his other two projects: A Tale Dark and Grimm and Wendell and Wild.[22]

On October 16, 2013, Selick announced a live-action film adaptation of Adam Gidwitz's children's novel A Tale Dark and Grimm.[23]

Wendell & Wild (2022)

On November 3, 2015, it was reported that Selick was developing Wendell & Wild, a new stop-motion feature with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key based on an original story by Selick.[24] In 2018, the film was picked up by Netflix.[25] The film was released on October 28, 2022, on Netflix.[26]

Upcoming projects

In June 2017, Selick was reported to direct the pilot and subsequent episodes of a Little Nightmares TV adaptation produced by the Russo brothers.[27]


Short films

Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1975 Tube Tales Yes Yes Yes
1977 Phases Yes Yes Yes
1981 Seepage Yes Yes No
1991 Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions Yes Yes Yes
2005 Moongirl Yes Yes No Also voice actor

Feature films

Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Yes No No
1996 James and the Giant Peach Yes Co-producer No
2001 Monkeybone Yes Executive No
2009 Coraline Yes Yes Yes Also production designer
2022 Wendell & Wild Yes Yes Yes [26]



In 2012, the Academy Film Archive preserved several of Selick's short films: Phases, Seepage, and Tube Tales.[28]


  1. ^ Block, Maxine; Rothe, Anna Herthe; Candee, Marjorie Dent (2009). Current Biography Yearbook - Google Books. Archived from the original on June 29, 2023. Retrieved August 9, 2013 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "CHARLES H. SELICK, 80, of RUMSON". Asbury Park Press. May 4, 2006. Archived from the original on September 14, 2016. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  3. ^ Beckerman, Jim. "A FUZZY NIGHTMARE, BROUGHT TO SCREEN", The Record (Bergen County), April 7, 1996. Accessed December 13, 2007. "We were literally rolling a 20-foot peach, says Selick, a Rumson native..."
  4. ^ Staff. "Filmmakers, students present their work at annual film festival" Archived June 16, 2023, at the Wayback Machine, The Monmouth Journal, June 19, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2019. "In February, the Film Club went to a local theater complex to view Coraline, a major feature film created by another RFH graduate. Henry Selick, RFH Class of 1970, adapted the children's story for the screen and directed the stop-action animation film that some theaters showed in 3-D."
  5. ^ "Henry Selick biography". Tribute.ca. Archived from the original on September 15, 2018. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  6. ^ Gritten, David (November 17, 2007). "The Darjeeling Limited: Who needs a film set in LA when you have a speeding train in India?". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  7. ^ "Selick no longer at work on The Fantastic Mr. Fox". Ain't It Cool News. February 15, 2006. Archived from the original on May 7, 2006. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  8. ^ Steve Prokopy (February 2, 2009). "Capone Talks with CORALINE Director and Wizard Master Henry Selick!!!". Ain't It Cool News. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  9. ^ Dunlop, Renee. February 12, 2009 Coraline; One Step at a Time for the Puppet of a Thousand Faces Archived January 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Kapko, Matt (October 6, 2009). "Breaking News: Henry Selick Leaves Laika". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  11. ^ Cunningham, Joe. "Henry Selick To Join Disney/Pixar". Front Row Reviews. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  12. ^ Amidi, Amid (December 20, 2010). "Henry Selick's New Studio Cinderbiter Hiring Head of Story". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  13. ^ "Disney Setting Marvel and Pixar Mystery Films for 2014; New Henry Selick Film on October 4, 2013 | Collider | Page 108082". Collider. Archived from the original on June 5, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  14. ^ a b staff (February 4, 2013). "Henry Selick revives 'Shadow King': Josh Penn produces stop-motion project". Variety. Archived from the original on July 22, 2022. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  15. ^ Fritz, Ben (September 13, 2012). "Disney takes $50 million write-down on canceled animation project". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 17, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  16. ^ Graser, Marc. "Disney pulls plug on Selick stop-motion pic". Variety. Archived from the original on August 17, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "The 'plagues' of Wendell & Wild: fires, ice storms, rioters, and COVID-19". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 4, 2022. Retrieved October 4, 2022.
  18. ^ Watson, Madalyn (November 7, 2022). "'The Shadow King': Henry Selick Reveals He Got the Rights Back to Scrapped Disney Project". Collider. Archived from the original on March 10, 2023. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  19. ^ "Disney Acquires Neil Gaiman's 'The Graveyard Book' Adaptation [Updated]". Screenrant.com. April 27, 2012. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  20. ^ "Ron Howard in Talks to Direct Disney's 'Graveyard Book' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. January 22, 2013. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Goldberg, Matt (February 5, 2013). "Henry Selick's THE SHADOW KING Finally Moves Forward; Plot Synopsis Revealed". Collider. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  22. ^ Rome, Emily (August 25, 2016). "'Kubo' studio Laika moves forward while 'Coraline' fans wait for the next project from Henry Selick". Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "Henry Selick Gives Up Animation For "A Tale Dark and Grimm"". October 16, 2013. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  24. ^ Flores, Terry (November 3, 2015). "Henry Selick, Key & Peele Developing Animated Feature 'Wendell and Wild' (EXCLUSIVE)". Archived from the original on September 24, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  25. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 14, 2018). "Netflix Wins Stop-Motion Animated 'Wendell And Wild': Henry Selick, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key Aboard". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on March 14, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  26. ^ a b King, Jack (March 14, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Teaser Announces Ving Rhames, David Harewood, and More Joining Voice Cast". Collider. Archived from the original on October 6, 2022. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  27. ^ Kit, Borys (June 12, 2017). "The Russo Brothers Adapting Video Game 'Little Nightmares' for TV (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 8, 2020. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  28. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive. Archived from the original on October 1, 2020. Retrieved September 21, 2020.