How Steven Spielberg Saved The Child’s Play Franchise In The ’80s

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You know how Chucky is always telling us we’re friends ’til the end? Turns out Child’s Play needed a friend of its own back in the 1980s.

Soon after the original sleeper hit grossed $33M domestically ($74M when adjusted for inflation), Don Mancini and David Kirschner’s budding horror series became the talk of the town. MGM and United Artists were up for sale, and a potential suitor by the name of Christopher Skase seemingly had no interest in making horror movies – not now, and perhaps not ever.

That raised big question marks over Chucky’s future – or lack thereof – and it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg swooped in to save the day that Child’s Play was officially on its way to Universal Pictures. It all makes for a pretty surreal story, and one that David Kirschner recalled in great detail during a recent chat with Bloody Disgusting:

They immediately ordered a second film because it had done so well and was received so well. 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 and United Artists) called. ‘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.

And rightly so, though it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg’s intervention that the Child’s Play series was allowed to grow and evolve on its own accord, undeterred by studio meddling or talk of all horror movies being canned at MGM.

Kirschner continued:

An American Tail became the highest grossing animated film of all time, at the time. Steven (who executive produced the film) 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.’ I owe my career to him and that’s still the case today – I went back to them 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.

Next up for Child’s Play? It’s not as straightforward as it seems, what with MGM plotting a total remake of the original movie from ’88 – much to the chagrin of Don Mancini. The Chucky co-creator is already pursuing his own venture in the form of Child’s Play: The TV SeriesWhich comes first, though? Only time will tell.

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