Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures has tapped Dana Stevens to write "The Au Pair," a tentatively-titled adaptation of R.L. Stine's "The Sitter," the company announced on Wednesday.
My heart skipped a beat when the press release landed in my inbox, because I grew up a hardcore Stine fan. The prolific author was my J.R.R. Tolkien. By the end of elementary school, I probably owned somewhere between 75 and 90 books, so it's safe to say that I know his "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" series inside-and-out. While I'm pleased to see that Hollywood is finally paying attention to his work, I think that Ghost House bought the wrong book.
The company should be adapting Stine's "The Babysitter," not "The Sitter."
The latter follows a young woman who runs from a troubled relationship by spending a fun-filled, romantic summer as a nanny in a posh Hamptons beach house. Her dream job takes a frightening turn when she uncovers a dark secret that haunts her and the kids she promised to protect.
"The Babysitter," on the other hand, follows a teenage babysitter who learns that she's the next victim of a homicidal maniac who stalks babysitters.
There are four books in "The Babysitter" series, which would make for a promising PG-13 genre franchise if some smart studio was willing to take on such a risk. The first novel features a great twist ending, and I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Craven's upcoming "Scream 4" takes a cue from the last few chapters of "The Babysitter III."
Stine's books have been translated into 32 languages and have sold over 300 million copies worldwide. Other Stine titles that are ripe for adaptation include the "Cheerleaders" series and the "Silent Night" trilogy.
As for "The Au Pair," Raimi and his fellow Ghost House principal Rob Tapert will produce with Sean and Bryan Furst, who brought the underwhelming "Daybreakers" to the big screen.
Ghost House's Nathan Kahane will exec produce with Yvonne Bernard, Beth Elise Hawk and Stevens, while Jane Stine (the author's wife) and Joan Waricha will co-produce.
Mosaic Media's Anne Blanchard brought "The Sitter" to the Furst brothers, and J.R. Young and Mary Lee will oversee the project for Ghost House.
"The Sitter" had to be renamed to "The Au Pair" (for now) because David Gordon Green is about to start shooting a 20th Century Fox comedy of the same name with Jonah Hill.
Stevens previously collaborated with Raimi on the underrated baseball drama "For the Love of the Game." She has experience in the thriller genre, having written the 1994 Madeleine Stowe vehicle "Blink." Stevens also created the TV series "What About Brian?" and most recently served as an exec producer on "Julie & Julia." She is represented by UTA.