After being a massively successful book series and even a television show, Goosebumps finally got the movie treatment in 2015, bringing the work of author R.L. Stine to life on the big screen for the first time. It was a big hit that spawned a sequel earlier this fall — but what you may not know is that it was an adaptation that nearly came together more than 20 years ago, with Tim Burton serving as a producer. Stine recently revealed,
We had a movie deal to do a Goosebumps movie, and I can’t tell you what year it was. It was like at the height of Goosebumps, back in ’94, ’95, around there, and we actually had a deal with Fox to do a movie, and Tim Burton who was going to be the producer. We had a big meeting, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’ll be great. Tim Burton and Goosebumps. It’ll be great.’ And we had a nice meeting with him, and we had a great time and we talked about what we should do, and then nothing happened. Sort of a typical story out there, right?
With Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween set to arrive on home video in just a few weeks, I had the wonderful opportunity to hop on the phone with R.L. Stine yesterday and discuss the legacy of his beloved franchise. One of my first questions for the author was about developments for features that never came together, and in his response he revealed that we almost got a Tim Burton-produced Goosebumps feature back in the mid-90s.
As R.L. Stine noted, projects starting to formulate and then never coming together is something that happens all the time in Hollywood, but it seems that there was a specific reason why the film never got made. According to the author, Tim Burton got a bit distracted by a certain DC Comics feature that he was developing, and he never came back to the table for Goosebumps. Stine explained,
He got involved in some Superman project that also never happened. He was going to do Superman, and then we never heard from him again. That was the end of it. And 20 years later we got a movie.
What R.L. Stine is referring to, of course, is Superman Lives, a feature reboot for the Man Of Steel that was going to star Nicolas Cage as the titular hero. That project did get a bit further along than the ’90s version of Goosebumps, notably getting to a point where Cage actually did tests in the costume, but it was ultimately a film that never got made and Supes ended up waiting more than a decade after that to return to the big screen.
So what would this Goosebumps film have been about? Would it have been a straight adaptation of one of R.L. Stine’s books in the series, or an original creation? Obviously things didn’t really get that far, but evidently the strategy was going to be a mix of the two with an emphasis on the latter. Said the author,
I think we were going to do a new story, but use some of the elements. But we never got that far, you know? It’s very strange. I don’t know. People couldn’t figure out for a long time which story to do, what should we do. And then Goosebumps wasn’t as popular, and then it came back.
The good news was that the Goosebumps TV show started up in 1995, offering audiences live-action adaptations of R.L. Stine’s books on Fox, but it would be 20 more years before Jack Black would play the author in Rob Letterman’s movie. Now, however, the franchise is a major one for Sony, with Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween having combined earned nearly $250 million at the global box office.
Audiences can now enjoy the first Goosebumps movie at home, but soon they will be able to watch the sequel the same way. Following its theatrical release this fall, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween will soon be arriving on digital December 25th, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD January 15th. Be on the lookout in stores, and we’ll have more from my interview with R.L. Stine coming your way in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.