Child’s Play lives on in Chucky series coming to Syfy and USA
Since 1988, the Child’s Play franchise has proven to be one of the most beloved (and pop culture-relevant) in horror movie history. There are projects still being developed to this day featuring Chucky, the pint-sized killer in the Good Guys body, and his merry band of victims and accomplices alike.
Creator Don Mancini recently announced that his inspiration for Chucky was in fact Hannibal, the psychotic genius from Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and numerous other films and novels.
Speaking of Chucky, Syfy and USA Network confirmed that a second season of the slasher series has been greenlit. Expect more gory hijinks towards the end of 2022.
And NECA continues to unveil killer products and toys, with early 2022 promising the release of a life-sized Chucky doll. Fun for the entire family, especially the kids!
The History of Child’s Play
While attending film school in Los Angeles, Don Mancini is said to have begun mentally writing a screenplay revolving around a killer doll. His inspiration, according to an interview with Mental Floss, was the widespread American consumerism of the 1980s and the “My Buddy” doll craze in particular. Mancini’s original script, titled “Blood Buddy”, saw several rewrites and revisions while bouncing around the Hollywood scene. Originally focusing on a child named Andy Barclay whose blood, when mixed with his doll “Chucky’s” material, would turn the inanimate object into a killing machine. Eventually the boy was revised to be an innocent victim, and as pre-production ramped up John Lithgow was actually considered for a major role at one point. Filming took place from January to March 1988 in Chicago with certain shots emanating from Culver Studios in California. Initial test screenings received negative reviews, forcing the producers to reduce Chucky’s screen time as well as enlisting Brad Dourif to voice the doll. Originally Chucky was voiced by veteran actress Jessica Walter.
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, Child’s Play was released theatrically on November 9th, 1988 and would go on to gross over $44 million in worldwide box office receipts. This is quite a feat, considering the production had a budget of just $9 million. Directed by Tom Holland (who also co-wrote the script with John Lafia and Mancini), the film centers around a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray (Dourif) who transfers his soul into a “Good Guys” doll during a hasty voodoo ritual to escape capture and goes on to terrorize a young boy (Barclay, played by Alex Vincent) and his family. The concept for the movie, also starring Catherine Hicks and Chris Sarandon, was original and fresh, and its success helped launch what many consider one of the greatest horror franchises in pop culture history. While Child’s Play took its fair share of blame for real-life crimes and atrocities, the subsequent sequels and spin-off projects pole-vaulted “Chucky” into the merchandising stratosphere with toys and dolls appearing on store shelves and television screens steadily for the last three decades.
Child’s Play: Sequels and Related Projects
A sequel to Child’s Play became a foregone conclusion before opening weekend in 1988 had even concluded. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists sold the franchise rights to Universal Pictures, who kept the lineage going with 1990’s Child’s Play 2. For this installment, Lafia assumed the director’s chair while Mancini wrote the script and all major players returned to their respective roles. The first sequel performed well ($36 million worldwide on a reported $13 million budget), and along with 1991’s Child’s Play 3 mixed in a bit of dark humor and silliness along with the horror. Child’s Play 3 would perform admirably, but still saw more than a 50% drop in revenue from the original film down to around $21 million. This would be the last time Chucky would grace the big screen for over seven years, though the icon would remain in the public eye with various guest spots on television (including a memorable 1998 cameo on Saturday Night Live where he was voiced by…..NOT Brad Dourif) and in mall t-shirt stores like Spencer’s around the country.
Bride of Chucky in 1998 would represent a major turn for the franchise, both in tone as well as ticket sales. The wackiness was turned up to eleven with Jennifer Tilly joining the cast as Tiffany, Chucky’s new main squeeze. Though markedly different from the first three films in terms of direction and atmosphere, Bride would go on to gross $50.7 million worldwide on a budget of just $25 million. Chucky and Tiffany shirts, posters, and toys hit the mainstream as the Child’s Play property saw a remarkable merchandising renaissance nationwide a decade after the launch of the franchise. Of course, stars such as John Ritter and a young Katherine Heigl and a hard-edged soundtrack featuring bands like White Zombie, Slayer and Motorhead certainly helped as well. The 2004 follow-up, Seed of Chucky, would continue the Chucky/Tiffany storyline, though to lesser box office results (about $25 million on a $12 million budget.) Don Mancini wrote both of these installments, as he did every movie in the Child’s Play franchise with the exception of the 2019 remake; Seed, however, represented Mancini’s directorial debut as well.
In 2013, Netflix released the next installment titled Curse of Chucky. This sequel, along with 2017’s Cult of Chucky, would be available direct-to-video only through Netflix as a shift to premiering films by way of streaming services began to catch on among the movie studios. Curse and Cult would see Mancini assume both directing and writing duties once again, but would also be notable for the return of Alex Vincent in the Andy role, going head-to-head with his childhood buddy once again.
A remake of Child’s Play was released in 2019, starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Hamill voicing Chucky. This film, while utilizing the same general outline as the original film, also deviated quite a bit in both origin story and direction to the point that it could be considered a standalone storyline. Released on June 21st, 2019, the remake would go on to gross $44 million representing a modest success over its $10 million budget.
In January of 2019, Syfy announced that a new 10-episode series based on the Child’s Play films will air on the network sometime in 2020 or 2021. Mancini and producer David Kirschner would take the lead on the project, which continues to follow the storyline set up by the films of the original franchise. Dourif was announced as returning to his familiar role on the series, which is titled Chucky. A teaser trailer was released by Syfy on July 17th, 2020, and over the next several months numerous actors were confirmed to appear and reprise their previous franchise roles. Besides Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky, Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany), Alex Vincent (Andy), Christine Elise McCarthy (Kyle) and Fiona Dourif have all returned to the Child’s Play family. The series premiered on October 12, 2021, on both SyFy as well as the USA Network. The critical response to the Chucky series has been mostly positive thus far, which prompted to announce on November 22, 2021, that the show has been renewed for a second season. Expect more small-screen thrills from the pint-sized killer sometime in 2022.
How many people has Chucky killed?
The little possessed doll has been busy, with a body count of 74 (unconfirmed) human beings spanning all seven films of the Child’s Play franchise and the 2019 remake. Of course, others such as his bride Tiffany and even little Andy Barclay have been guilty of killing others in these films, whether purposely or unknowingly. But the diminutive ginger-haired devil has the most impressive list of kills by a wide margin.
Here is the breakdown:
Child’s Play (1988): 6
Child’s Play 2 (1990): 8
Child’s Play 3 (1991): 8
Bride of Chucky (1998): 12
Seed of Chucky (2004): 15
Curse of Chucky (2013): 8
Cult of Chucky (2017): 10
Child’s Play (2019): 7
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