It may be hard to believe now, but there was once a time when studios would wait until a release had proven itself at the box-office before investing in a massive franchise around it. But the likes of DC, Marvel, and the future firee at Universal who came up with the Dark Universe boondoggle have now set a standard of placing the cart before the horse, and other studios cannot help but follow suit. Fox is the latest showbiz entity to go all-in on an untested concept, banking that the respectable profits generated by that Goosebumps movie from 2015 that you’ve already forgotten about shall be a bellwether for future riches.

Variety ran an item last night announcing that Fox had signed a deal to produce and release not one, not two, but three films adapting entries in R.L. Stine’s spooky chapter book series Fear Street. Conceived as a slightly more mature alternative to his popular Goosebumps books — his line of short novels aimed for young-teen readers, rather than grade-schoolers — the anthology collected assorted tales of the small-town macabre. Fox has wrangled a trio of writers (two of whom have zero feature credits, and one of whom is Kyle Killen, writer of the film in which Mel Gibson speaks through a beaver hand puppet) to draw up the scripts, and for directorial duties, they’ve landed Leigh Janiak, director of the upcoming The Craft remake.

As franchise overcommitment goes, this one would be easily salvaged in the event of disaster. It’s an anthology series, so if the first one flops, they can simply dynamite everything and start anew somewhere else. This three-picture deal is a matter of branding more than anything; they’ll release three horror movies like any other studio, only these will have a label implying “SORT OF LIKE THAT OTHER THING YOU ENJOYED” on them.

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