Friday, February 15, 2019

Paramount Moves Up 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ Movie Release Date; Nickelodeon Announces New 'AYAOTD' Miniseries

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society...

One of the most anticipated films of 2019 is Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a feature film adaptation of Nickelodeon’s beloved ’90s television series in which a group of kids get together in the woods to tell ghost stories.

Paramount Pictures’ Paramount Players (Dora the Explorer) is developing the movie in conjunction with Nickelodeon Movies.

Just before the holidays, it was announced that D.J. Caruso will direct the feature that screenwriter Gary Dauberman (It, The Nun, Annabelle: Creation) previously said will “honor the darker, scarier tone of the show.” Dauberman has penned an all-new story focused on the tale-telling Midnight Society huddled around a campfire, along with Matt Kaplan. The most recent draft of the film was written by BenDavid Grabinski.

Now, Paramount is making a small release shift, opening the film a week earlier than originally slated: Friday, October 4, 2019, reports Bloody Disgusting.

Caruso’s most recent directing gigs include The Disappointments Room and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, although he also helmed the fantastic teen thriller Disturbia back in 2007.

Update (2/15): Nickelodeon announced during Nickelodeon Upfront 2019 that, to celebrate the release of the Are You Afraid of the Dark? movie, the beloved anthology series will return this October as a brand-new miniseries and follow new members of the Midnight Society as they gather around a campfire in the woods to share scary stories! The miniseries will coincide with the upcoming Are You Afraid of the Dark? theatrical movie from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players’ and Nickelodeon Movies, in theaters October 2019.

The show revolved around a group of teenagers who referred to themselves as The Midnight Society. Every week, at a secret location in the woods, one member would tell a scary story to the rest of the group, some of which were based on public domain fairy tales, short stories or urban legends. The new film will be a completely original story told by The Midnight Society.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a Canadian Twilight Zone-esqie anthology series created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel. It revolved around a group of teenagers who called themselves the Midnight Society and would meet weekly at a secret location in the woods, where one member would tell a scary story to the rest of the group, some of which were based on public domain fairy tales, short stories or urban legends. Subjects ranged from abandoned houses and vampires to scary clowns, witches and aliens. The show was revived in 1999 for two more seasons with new writers and showrunners.

The series debuted in 1990 on the Canadian children's channel YTV and was picked up by Nickelodeon USA in 1991, though it didn’t debut until SNICK’s launch on Saturday, Aug. 15, 1992. The show ran until April 1996, and a revival series with new writers, directors, writers and cast members was produced by Nickelodeon from 1999 to 2000. In all, the series ran for 91 episodes over seven seasons. Tia and Tamera Mowry, Will Friedle, Neve Campbell, Hayden Christensen, Jay Baruchel, Tatyana Ali, Melissa Joan Hart, Jewel Staite, and two-time Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling are just a few of the household names that lent their acting skills to the anthology.

Each episode was introduced with the storyteller saying “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society,” who then would announce the title of that segment. MacHale said the line was a tribute to the series The Twilight Zone, in which creator Rod Serling would introduce the episode by saying, “submitted for your approval.”

Gary Dauberman recently revealed that the film won’t be an anthology collection of short horror stories, but instead a single horror story told around the campfire by The Midnight Society. Dauberman also revealed that he isn’t adapting any of the stories from the show, telling /Film earlier this year that the film will be a completely original story told by The Midnight Society:

“It is a completely original story I came up with, but it still has the Midnight Society and it still has the campfire. It’s still a story being told."

The writer's comments seem to imply that the narrative will put more emphasis on the storytellers as opposed to merely being a collection of creepy stories. He also detailed why it's so important to deliver younger viewers creepy stories.

“That show is so important to me. I didn’t want to age it down too much because for it’s time, it had some really disturbing episodes and some really dark episodes. Not every story the Midnight Society told ended with happily ever after or a person learning their lesson and it will never happen again," Dauberman admitted. "I really embraced that side of things and I think it’s been a long time. I think fear is healthy for kids. I don’t think we have to always sand down the edges of things and that’s something I really wanted to do with Are You Afraid of the Dark? I think it is scary and I think kids will be scared watching it at times, and also they’ll laugh at times. I think it’s got a great message. I think it’s got a great heart to it but it is still scary. I think that’s great. I think it’s going to open it up to a wider audience.”

Dauberman also previously told The Hollywood Reporter:

“The show is about the shared experience of telling stories — especially scary ones. We’re going to celebrate that with this movie and honor the darker, scarier tone of the show, which was really groundbreaking for Nickelodeon at the time. I hope the Midnight Society approves.”

The big question is whether there will be an all-new Midnight Society telling the story, or will the old gang back together from the original series be making a comeback? More than likely it’ll be a new crew, but maybe we’ll get some cameos from the original cast members.

The Midnight Society will convene for the first time in almost 20 years when Are You Afraid of the Dark? opens in theaters Oct. 4, 2019.

The movie comes as Nickelodeon is in the midst of reviving a slate of the network's beloved '90s. Rugrats for example, is being rebooted for not only a Nickelodeon TV show, but a CGI/live-action movie as well. Nickelodeon also announced that Rocko's Modern Life would be returning to the network with a TV movie, as well as Invader Zim, which will likely be getting its TV movie in 2019. Nickelodeon also revived Legends of the Hidden Temple and Hey Arnold! for TV movies, which aired in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and has also revived Double Dare. Nickelodeon is also in the planning stages to revive Clarissa Explains It All.

More: Jason Reitman to Direct New 'Ghostbusters' Movie; New Animated GB Movie Also in the Works!

Originally published: Thursday, January 31, 2019.
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