You never really can tell what’s going to happen in 2020, especially when streaming rivals like Netflix and Disney+ are in the mix. While Netflix and Disney were once partners on the streaming front, the two have now become competitors that still have some properties shared between their libraries, albeit with very interesting windows of availability. And yet somehow, these former friends have found a new way to do business, as it’s been announced that Netflix has just purchased not one, but an entire trilogy of films based on R.L. Stine’s Fear Street novels from Disney for a summer 2021 debut.
Deadline reported the deal between the two parties will see co-writer/director Leigh Janiak’s untitled Fear Street trilogy debuting on Netflix, with the three installments debuting one at a time over the entire summer. Dubbing this strategy as “The Summer of Fear,” this puts the R.L. Stine films back on the map after a rocky road that sometimes cast doubt on whether they’d see the light of day at all.
For years, the Fear Street trilogy had been planned for production and release under the auspices of 20th Century Fox. With the studio’s plan always dictating that the three movies would be released theatrically, one month at a time, it was an ambitious move that came to be after the runaway success of Sony’s Goosebumps adaptation. Naturally, in the light of the acquisition of Fox by The Walt Disney Company, the fate of Fear Street seemed to hang in the balance. Fortunately, the films escaped the fate of projects that were outright cancelled, like Mouse Guard, or sold to other studios, like the Tom Hanks/Paul Greengrass drama News of the World.
It’s that aspect in particular that makes Fear Street’s acquisition by Netflix all the more surprising, especially in light of the current drama surrounding the still theater-bound release of Fox’s troubled New Mutants movie. Somehow, these movies have skated around any sort of commitment to theatrical release, free and clear for a streaming home; and yet, they are surprisingly not going to Disney+ or Hulu, two of the in-house streaming providers at Camp Disney.
More than likely, the content of R.L. Stine’s legendary literary series is something that Disney might not be confident in marketing; which seems weird as the author is currently paired with Disney+ on the new horror-comedy series, Just Beyond. With a teen horror tone that comes from a very ‘80s/’90s sensibility, Fear Street does seem like a canon that’d be right at home with the folks that brought you Stranger Things and even The Babysitter, a movie that shares a name with another R.L. Stine franchise. Which leads to a particularly interesting path for Fear Street to take in the future.
Should “The Summer of Fear” work out for Netflix, the streaming studio could find itself with further adaptations of Fear Street novels on their plate. Not to mention, R.L Stine’s The Babysitter could join the ranks of that other film with the same name, building a teen horror empire for the studio that gave us both The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. There’s currently no exact dates for the Fear Street trilogy’s release, but it’s to be assumed that June, July and August 2021 will see each dreadful entry of terror play out before the world’s eager eyes.