Oh, what could have been. According to famed YA horror author R.L. Stine, whose classic Goosebumps series finally became a feature film series in 2015, we almost got an adaptation of the property that would have arrived during the peak of the series fame—around 1995. And oh yeah, it would have been produced (and maybe directed) by none other than Tim Burton.
Speaking in a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Burton reflected on the project’s promising beginnings.
“We had a movie deal to do a Goosebumps movie, and I can’t tell you what year it was,” Stine said. “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.”
“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. 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.”.
Oh, the irony of Burton leaving the Goosebumps project to get involved with “some Superman project,” which turned out to be none other than the legendary lost film Superman Lives. That movie would have starred Nicolas Cage of all people as a black suit-wearing Superman, and the reasons why it never got made were compelling enough to inspire a documentary of its own, The Death of Superman Lives. Apparently, this was quite the period for Burton-fronted projects that never came to fruition.
But imagine what a Burton-produced or directed Goosebumps movie made in the mid-1990s might have looked like. Fans have long clamored for a feature-length adaptation of stories such as The Haunted Mask, seen above. I’d like to think that Burton’s version might have captured the accessible but still spooky vibe of shows such as Are You Afraid of The Dark (which also has an adaptation coming), rather than the “comedy adventure” genre of the modern, Jack Black-fronted adaptations. But unfortunately, I guess we’ll never know.