20th Century Fox is doing something genuinely interesting with their adaptation of R.L. Stine‘s beloved teen horror Fear Street books. The studio has recruited Honeymoon director Leigh Janiak to re-write and direct Fear Street, but in a compelling shake-up of the standard distribution model, Fox has set a deal that calls for her to write three different scripts that could be not only shot back-to-back but also released back-to-back theatrically, each film hitting theaters one month apart.
The news comes from THR, who sources tell that Fox is looking to create a “binge-ing” model for movies, and now that someone came up with it, I can’t believe it took this long. Distribution models have seen some shakeups over the last few years after the rise of VOD and streaming, but the shifts have been subtle and reactive. A means of playing catch-up with changing audience demands. This feels like a proactive and creative shift that’s forward thinking to how people like to consume their media now.
I’m not sure Fear Street has the kind of passionate fan base that’s the best to test this kind of distribution model out on, but for example, if Warner Bros. had released two Wonder Woman movies sequels one month away from each other, everyone would have gone to see them. That said, horror fans are loyal, so if the first movie is good, it’s a safe bet they’ll be back in the seats for the next two. Ultimately, this is a fascinating demonstration of how the lines between TV and movies continue to blur, as franchises turn to writers rooms and serialized narrative, while television is more cinematic than it’s ever been. The other thing Fear Street has going for it is Janiak, whose debut feature Honeymoon was an assured nail-biter with a distinct voice. Since then, she’s directed episodes of MTV’s Scream series and Cinemax’s exorcism drama Outcast, and was attached to Sony’s The Craft reboot, though she has sadly dropped off that project.