'Goosebumps' producer Neal Moritz almost gave up on the whole idea
Yesterday, I let you inside my head to live out your dream of being on the “Goosebumps” movie set. But because the nature of film is ephemeral, sometimes people are busy with the WORK of movies and you miss them.
Then sometimes the planets align and you get to talk to them later. Like when I caught up with “Goosebumps” producer Neal Moritz last week to shed more light on where the movie stands almost a year after filming wrapped.
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment
HITFIX HARPY: Was there a learning curve for you? “I Am Legend” and “Fast & Furious” aren’t exactly family movies. Was there anything that surprised you or you were like oh we can't do that?
NEAL MORITZ: I think because I have a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old and I've seen so many kids movies with them that I kind of got it. I wanted to make a movie that they could see, a movie that was for them. My daughter is so damn excited. She's asking ‘Can I invited my whole class to the premiere?’ And I'm like yes, yes you can. What I think is so special about “Goosebumps” is it kind of a badge of courage for kids. They're scared and then they get through it and they're so proud of themselves that they made it through.
“Goosebumps” was basically Horror 101 for my generation.
NEAL: We really tried to do was make a movie that harkened to the past. Amblin movies. Things like “Goonies” or “Gremlins” or even movies like “Stand by Me,” where there's a great dynamic between kids. In our case it's a movie that has scares, but it's a lot of fun at the same time. That was the biggest challenge for us. Just making a movie that had the right combination of scares and fun.
Did you stray into campiness because it was for kids?
NEAL: We never wanted to make it campy. We wanted it to be fun and to have humor, but we wanted to play it as real as we could within the circumstance that we've set up in the movie. Beyond that – I mean the feeling was is ‘Let's play it real but let's go for laughs.’
R.L. Stein came to the set didn't he for a little bit?
NEAL: He did a cameo in the movie. He plays Mr. Black the drama teacher. The most rewarding thing for us? We had a bunch of meetings early on and then Mr. Stein said ‘Good luck and I'll see it when you're done.’ When we showed him the movie he loved it. He just loved it and that was really – that made us feel really good.
How long did it take for you guys to pull this story together and decide it was going to be more of a meta-take?
NEAL: Honestly? We did two other versions of a screenplay. They were good but they didn't warrant making a movie. In fact, I almost lost the enthusiasm to make a “Goosebumps” movie because I just didn't think we were doing it justice. But then when I read this version I thought, ‘Now we've got a movie!’
What else do you have on your plate now that you're winding down on “Goosebumps”?
NEAL: I'm about to start this movie called “Passengers” with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. We start shooting in September. Then another “Fast and Furious,” another “Jump Street” and a lot of other things.
So just some little known indie movies with little known celebrities nobody may have heard of. No pressure.
NEAL: [laughs] Just trying my best.
Do you think there's a possibility that we can get super meta and now R.L. Stein will write a book about the movie?
NEAL: Maybe. Or maybe that's what the next movie will be about it if we're lucky to have it. [laughs] Maybe I'll steal your idea.
[laughs] Take it! Be free, little meta idea!