Prepare to meet your new best friend, Chucky 2.0. The red-headed doll is back with a vengeance and this time he’s WiFi-enabled.
Making his return to the big screen once more with the arrival of a Child’s Play reboot this June, the horror icon first stabbed his way to cult classic (and tabloid moral panic) status back in the '80s.
Fast forward to 2019 and this time round, the controversy has nothing to do with the film’s violent scenes. In fact, the drama continues off screen, having started back when the idea of a reboot was first discussed.
Any horror fan who’s been following the development of the film will have noticed the #NotMyChucky hashtag doing the rounds on Twitter.
This was kickstarted by Bride of Chucky star Jennifer Tilly’s reaction on social media: “New ‘Chucky’ movie? Ummm...no. Tiffany and I are gonna sit this one out. #NotmyChucky”.
Equally, Chucky franchise creator Don Mancini declined involvement in the project, and while he hasn’t said much about his disdain for the remake, he did pointedly post a meme of Mariah Carey holding up a sign saying “I don’t know her”.
THIS IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY ON THAT SUBJECT pic.twitter.com/r2llIGSDWx- Don Mancini (@RealDonMancini) September 21, 2018
The filmmaker eventually spoke out about it on the Post Mortem podcast, explaining why he and producer David Kirschner turned down the opportunity to have their names appear on the credits alongside It producers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith, and director Lars Klevberg.
“We said no thank you, because we have our ongoing thriving business with Chucky,” Mancini said. “Obviously my feelings were hurt… And I did create the character and nurture the franchise for three f**king decades.”
The reaction has led hundreds of fans expressing similar sentiments online, expressing their plans to boycott the movie.
But why? In the age of relentless remakes, why is everyone against this particular one, and how is it even possible for there to be two concurrent franchises?
To figure out the answer, we must travel back to 1988 when the original Child’s Play, created by Mancini and directed by Tom Holland (not that one, or that one, or that one, or even the other one), dropped in theatres.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the story about a red-headed murderous doll named Chucky was a box office hit, grossing over $32 million domestically and nearly another $10 million in international markets.
It was such a success that producers MGM and United Artists ordered another sequel. Things were fine and dandy until Kirschner received a call that changed everything.
“We were in pre-production and getting everything ready, and I’m on a plane to Cincinnati when Richard Burger (head of production for MGM/UA) called,” explained Kirschner.
“‘There’s a guy by the name of Christopher Skase at Quintex, they’re buying the company and don’t want to make horror movies,’ he said. I was enraged.”
Once the rage had settled, the producer came to realise he still had one of the hottest horror properties on his hands and soon enough the studios came running to purchase the sequel.
Within 24 hours, Kirschner’s phone was ringing like crazy – but it was the call from director Steven Spielberg that (understandably) grabbed his attention the most.
“Steven said, ‘Look, you made your first film with Universal, just give them your wish list of what you want and I would have done my job in giving them the first crack at it,’” he explained.
“I owe my career to him and that’s still the case today – I went back to them (Universal) and said, ‘Because of Steven, we’re bringing it to you first,’ and they met almost all of the demands. That’s how we got into the relationship with Universal when five other studios were bidding on it.”
And that was that – after a successful sequel, a string of movies – with Universal – followed that have gained cult classic status over the years and now stand as the building blocks of one of the most successful horror franchises of all time.
But here’s the clincher – despite the films continuing under Universal for decades, this whole time, MGM/UA retained the rights to the original – including the right to remake Mancini and Holland’s film.
Although Mancini’s films are no longer present in the cinemas – 2017’s Cult of Chucky and 2014’s Curse of Chucky were both direct-to-video releases – the filmmaker is keeping the franchise alive with a planned Chucky TV series in development at Syfy.
This combined with the fact that the remake does not have the original production team’s blessing is why #NotMyChucky is even a thing.
In the fans’ eyes, this is more than just an unnecessary reboot – as one put it, this is a “straightwash hijacking of an ongoing franchise”.
it's so infuriating & nobody in mainstream media seems to care & i hate that it's just being written off as just another dumb reboot instead of a straightwash hijacking of an ongoing franchise *still* led by don mancini who evolved these films into gay gore fests w/ love & care https://t.co/rg3c49Tpst- Katie Stebbins (@_katiestebbins_) June 14, 2019
This isn’t the first time a franchise has split in two due to complicated studio deals. In 1983, two James Bond films dropped in theatres: Octopussy, starring Roger Moore, and Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery front and centre.
More recently, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich came about when franchise creator Charles Band agreed to a deal with Dallas Sonnier of production company Cinestate.
The deal meant Band could continue making Puppet Master films of his own, essentially splitting the franchise in two.
Although this idea is nothing new, in the age of the internet and the rage of Chucky’s creators, fans are angry and they’ve got an outlet to express their opinion.
Regardless of the film’s divisive reaction, it’s going ahead and will hit theatres in a matter of days.
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman and Mark Hamill doing the voice of the knife-wielding doll, the film follows a boy and his mum who gifts him a robotic Buddi doll, not knowing of his bloodthirsty nature.
You never know – perhaps one day in the future the creators on both sides of the field will come to some sort of agreement. But for now, it’s understandable why Mancini and co don’t wanna play.
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