R.L. Stine is a prolific author. There are 62 books in R.L. Stine’s original series; after tallying up all the spin-off series and choose-your-own-adventure books, the count skyrockets to a staggering 176 books that together have sold more than 300 million copies. The series also spawned a television series that ran from 1995 to 1998. The franchise is so massive and popular, it’s almost impressive they haven’t adapted it to the big screen. Well, now they have.
Sony Pictures acquired the rights to the franchise a number of years ago. Now production is finally ramping up. The film follows a boy who moves in next door to Shivers, a horror writer, whose creations are brought to life by a demonic ventriloquist’s dummy. Jack Black will star as Shivers, the R.L. Stine-esque author and Deadline reports Dylan Minnette (Prisoners) has just signed on as the film’s lead, Zach Cooper. According to The Wrap, the film will also feature Odeya Rush (The Giver, We Are What We Are) as Shivers’ niece who helps Zach put Shivers’ creations to rest. The cast is impressive; Minette’s role in Prisoners was small but powerful, and Rush showed herself to be a bright new talent in the excellent We Are What We Are.
The adaptation has put together an interesting collection of talent behind the camera as well. Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens and Shark Tale) will serve as the film’s director. He’ll be working with a script written by Scott Alexander (Ed Wood, 1408) and Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye, Disturbia). It’s assuring the script is coming from two writers who know the horror genre, and Letterman should be capable of infusing mad cap energy into it.
Goosebumps is a staple of 90’s entertainment. On one hand, it feels like this adaption comes about a decade and a half too late. On the other, this could be a good opportunity to introduce a new generation to the franchise. The film is still in the early stages of pre-production so there’s no way to know whether Goosebumps will be exclusively targeting this new young audience, or going for wider appeal, so as to include fans of the original series that are now in their 20’s and 30’s. The solid talent behind and in front of the camera suggests that this film might end up being more than a cash grab. But, as the film is still casting and no shoot dates have been set, it looks like we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.