Strange things are happening on Fear Street…
R.L. Stine’s popular series of YA horror novels, aimed at an older demographic than his kid-centric Goosebumps series, will be turned into a motion picture franchise at 20th Century Fox. The studio has enlisted the talented Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon) to direct the first installment and oversee screenplays for a second and third feature, which – like the Fear Street novels – will take place during different time periods in the town of Shadyside, Ohio.
Ordinarily, that would be enough to get anybody interested. Leigh Janiak is one of the most promising horror filmmakers in recent years, and savvy filmgoers have been keeping an eye on her career ever since her truly disturbing debut, Honeymoon. Any new film from Janiak was going to be worth keeping an eye on.
But that’s not all: Hollywood Reporter also reveals that 20th Century Fox is planning to release all three Fear Street movies back-to-back, one per month, over the course of three months. It’s a plan that at least one “insider” is calling “bingeable movies”, and if it’s successful, it’s a new paradigm that might just take the industry by storm.
Of course, ordinarily, planning to three movies at once, before you know if audiences are even interested, would be a foolhardy endeavor. Look at all the plans Universal Pictures made for an interconnected “Dark Universe” of monster movies, and then look at the disappointing box office receipts for their first outing – The Mummy – and try to tell us they weren’t putting the horse before the cart.
That being said, Fear Street isn’t a blockbuster tentpole kind of movie. R.L. Stine’s stories could easily be adapted into low budget chillers – with titles like Halloween Party, The Stepsister and The Prom Queen – and could potentially reap huge rewards off of a very small financial investment. Even releasing the films in rapid succession feels like a safe move, since horror/thrillers frequently make their money back on their opening weekend and more-0r-less vanish from multiplexes one month later anyway.
Plus, if the film’s are good, 20th Century Fox could potentially make them into even more of an event once all three Fear Street movies are in theaters. This is just speculation, but a triple-feature slumber party event at movie theaters sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
Leigh Janiak will direct and co-write the first Fear Street movie, and rewrite the screenplays for the whole trilogy. The three films are currently being written by Kyle Killen (The Beaver), Zak Olkewicz (Malignant Man) and Silka Luisa (The Wilding).
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Top Photo: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival & Pocket Books
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.