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After the success of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series and the other success of the later released books, it can only be expected that the Five Nights at Freddy’s series would eventually receive a cinematic adaptation.
However, the production of the Five Nights at Freddy’s film has not been smooth sailing. Fans have been patiently waiting for updates since the film’s first rumor in 2015 and are sadly still waiting. Cawthon has been transparent in letting fans know what’s happening, but there’s still a lot of production left unspoken.
A Timeline of Events
As I’ve already mentioned, many years have passed since the first hint at a Five Nights at Freddy’s film was released to the public. So even though we aren’t any closer to seeing a final product, there are still several years worth of progress to track.
To make it as accessible as possible, we have created a timeline of events to help understand everything that has happened during the production of the Five Nights at Freddy’s film.
2015 marks the beginning of our journey into the production of the FNaF movie. During this time, Warner Bros announced that it had acquired the rights to the franchise, and plans were being made to begin production. The company additionally announced that they had every intention to collaborate with Scott Cawthon to make the movie and ensure it was equally insane, terrifying, and adorable.
After it was said that Roy Lee, David Katzenberg, and Seth Grahame-Smith were said to produce, and Gil Kenan was to direct, there was a year of silence in production.
Of course, it was easy to assume that this period of silence was due to the film being made and the sole focus being on that. But when we didn’t hear anything until 2017, many fans started speculating that something had gone wrong.
Though silence ended in 2017, and Cawthon finally came forward to announce that several issues had put a hold on production. He stated that he had faced many problems within the movie industry, and the production was back at square one.
However, from this point onward, he promised he would be more involved with the movie as he wanted it to be something he was excited to share with the fanbase.
Later that year, Cawthon tweeted a photo of a director’s chair with ‘Freddy’ on the back panel and the Blumhouse Productions logo in the background. Jason Blum, CEO of Blumhouse Productions, quickly cleared up the confusion and said he was excited to work on the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie alongside Scott.
However, Gil Kenan left the film’s production during this change, and the director role was handed over to Chris Colombus.
So following the chaos of changing production companies, 2018 bought some somewhat promising news for the film’s production.
Cawthon came forward toward the middle of the year to say that the first draft of the script was completed, and he believed a second and third film was possible (which, given where we are in the production now, seems like a laughable comment.) To aid the excitement, Blum also spoke out in the same month to declare that the film was set for a 2020 release.
However, in November of the same year, Cawthon said that the script’s first draft had been scrapped, and they were starting again, delaying the process further.
So 2019 essentially repeated the previous year’s process, with Cawthon declaring that the first script had been finished and finalized. But outside of this, it was a relatively quiet year for production updates.
The lack of updates meant fans remained hopeful that this was the final rocky year for updates, especially after the number of hardships already faced by Cawthon and the film crew.
Following the lack of updates in 2019, 2020 felt like smooth sailing. In June, Blum stated that the film was in active development – which was incredibly reassuring for everyone waiting to receive updates of the film falling through again. Additionally, Blum said he didn’t want to put a timeline on its progress, which isn’t surprising given how much delay the production had already faced.
In November of 2020, Cawthon cemented the knowledge that the production was finally set in stone. . He took to Reddit to explain a few of the hardships the team had faced, alongside giving fans a deep insight into several scrapped scripts and ideas behind the film, but I’ll go into more detail about that later.
Furthermore, Cawthon was pleased to state that filming would commence in the Spring of 2021, so the Five Nights at Freddy’s film’s future seemed reasonably bright. Although the release date we had previously been promised had sadly been scrapped, the knowledge that filming would occur soon made the movie almost tangible.
With the reassurance that filming would start toward the beginning of the year and the guarantee that the script was finished, 2021 was supposedly the year we finally got the ball rolling with the movie. But sadly, September brought the news of Cawthon deciding to scrap the finalized script, taking us back to the same place as 2017.
So following the disappointing news of 2021, 2022 held little to no promises. If all had gone ahead with the original filming, we probably would’ve seen a franchise worth of Fazbear films by this point, but in reality, we don’t even know what the storyline will be.
Unfortunately, Cawthon and Blum avoided posting anything for months following the final script’s scrapping- leaving the waiting fans in the dark again.
However, in March of 2022, Blum finally broke the silence and stated that news on the film was “dangerously close,” and it could be set for a 2023 release. Although Cawthon never confirmed this, the information began getting fans excited again. This was only emphasized by Blum tweeting a photo from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in August, which showed Henson working on the animatronic suits.
With any creative process, there’s a lot of trial and error. So it’s only expected that the Five Nights at Freddy’s film expected the same treatment. Luckily for the hardcore fans who have been invested in production since it was rumored many years ago, Scott Cawthon was keen to share the progress with us.
In the Reddit post I’ve mentioned already, he explained that they had created, reviewed, and scrapped several scripts. However, he had summarised a few of the discarded ideas for those still patiently waiting for production updates, which I have listed and summarised below.
It’s important to note that the following screenplays are not the only scripts that were reviewed during the process, but they are the only ones Cawthon shared with us when he finally explained the obstacles faced during the film’s production.
Alongside the synopsis, Cawthon explained the problems faced when reviewing each script, accompanied by the verdict. Comparing each script shows a profound change in ideas during the development, which I find fascinating. Also, as someone who knows the franchise like the back of their hand, it’s intriguing to take note of the different inspirations Cawthon has attempted to apply to the film and why they didn’t work out.
The F Screenplay
The ‘F” Screenplay follows the story of a group of teenage troublemakers who break into Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria at night, but they are met with the horrors of the animated animatronics, and chaos ensues.
By the end of the script, the protagonist ends up in a secret underground animatronic production facility responsible for supplying the government with robots. This completely contrasts with the first Five Nights at Freddy’s game and is unrelated to any content within the novels.
However, the idea was scrapped after several problems were bought to light. Cawthon decided that the content within the script followed a generic Five Nights at Freddy’s themed premise but strayed too far from the source material. So, this version of the script was tossed shortly after its review.
Plushies take Manhatten
Going off its name, this variation of the movie script appears to focus more on the cutesy side of the film rather than the honest, haunting version we have grown to love. Unfortunately, out of every scrapped idea, this version is the one Cawthon didn’t share much about. The information in Cawthon’s Reddit post suggests that the storyline follows plushies taking over Manhatten, as the name suggests. But we didn’t get much else aside from that.
Cawthon’s verdict on this screenplay was quite obviously negative since the only comment he made was ‘Burn with Fire.’
The Random Charlie screenplay follows a similar premise to the F screenplay, in the sense that a group of friends visits Freddy Fazbear’s pizza after dark but are met with chaos, but this group of friends is on the hunt for a lost toy rather than just going for a poke around.
The characters involved in this variation, alongside the ‘lost toy,’ can be closely linked to the content from the Five Nights at Freddy’s books rather than the games – especially Fazbear Frights. However, there aren’t many similarities outside of that.
Cawthon suggested in his post that the characters in this variation may share similar personalities and names as pre-existing characters in the FNaF franchise; they were only ‘loosely based’ on their counterparts. Because of this, he felt like the film lost a lot of its impact and once again strayed too far from the source, followed by the script’s scrapping.
For any keen Five Nights at Freddy’s fans, the title of this screenplay will immediately seem familiar. Unfortunately, by this point, Cawthon had given up trying to find someone who could understand the lore of Five Nights at Freddy’s well enough to write a script, so he attempted to take on the challenge himself.
The Silver Eyes was the first novel Cawthon released to coincide with the video games. Hence, the script’s title seemed promising from the get-go compared to the previous.
However, Cawthon quickly admitted that he found it incredibly difficult to find an approach to writing a screenplay based on his first book. As a result, three different scripts were written based on the Silver Eyes novel. Still, Cawthon’s lack of experience with script writing meant each version ended up being scrapped.
However, while writing the third script, Cawthon decided that trying to create something based on the novel was too challenging. So, he decided that he would try and write a script based on the game rather than the book, which is where the cinematic adaptation begins to change slightly.
Like the plushies take Manhatten’s idea, the Pawn Shop premise is relatively easy to understand from the title. This script sets the film in a pawn shop and follows a young male protagonist. While on shift, someone brings in an old animatronic, which is later revealed to have been robbed. The other animatronics stolen from the venue has been taken to different locations and put up for sale. However, they escape and head toward the Pawn Shop to find the last of their kind.
This idea was deemed too wholesome for what was intended to be released as a horror film. Cawthon affectionately referred to this script as “a boy and his animatronic” but decided to throw away the idea and encourage more of a focus on the game’s horror elements.
The Cassidy Screenplay
For those who don’t know who Cassidy is, she was one of Afton’s victims at the Pizzaria, so she’s one of the children who go on to possess the animatronics. Because of her history in the franchise, this screenplay packed in a considerable amount of lore which is only encouraged by the extreme focus on one character.
But even though the Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase adore the franchise’s lore, Cawthon decided that the script would confuse too many new viewers. He also agreed that the script would make the film more of a visual encyclopedia than a decent piece of cinema, so the idea lost its appeal.
Taking inspiration from the Cassidy script, the Misfit Kid setup relies on the protagonist’s relationship with the Fazbear pizzeria. Initially, Cawthon decided that this screenplay had the most potential due to no serious flaws, but after several reviews, he decided that it lacked potential.
The story in this setup revolves around a mother and her child moving to a new town, where the child becomes fixated on the Fazbear pizzeria. So it ticks the boxes for the protagonist having somewhat of a relationship with the location, but Cawthon decided that trying to create a modern setting for the film but having it revolve around an old restaurant would cause too many issues later down the line.
Furthermore, Cawthon decided he cared very little for the characters while reading the script. If he didn’t feel attached to them, he believed that very few watchers would.
It’s hard to create a horror film without going down the ghost tracker route at some point, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say this script variation is not surprising. Five Nights at Freddy’s has the potential to apply this basic horror setup, especially with so much lore surrounding the souls of the murdered children and the relationship with the animatronics.
But creating a film based on a group of amateur ghost trackers again caused some issues. The script gave too much insight into the characters’ backstories and hardships rather than the location’s history, so it focused more on them than the animatronics.
The verdict and result of this script concluded a stronger connection between protagonist and location was needed from the get-go. Unfortunately, this has been a recurring issue in most scripts up until now.
The Insane Screenplay
The cryptically titled ‘Insane’ setup was incredibly similar to the previous Ghost Tracker script, so there’s evidence that the paranormal approach to the film had the most potential we have seen yet. However, this script is suggested to involve the fun time animatronics alongside Marionette, so it takes more inspiration from the second FNaF game than the first.
Because of this, there’s already a significant gap in the location’s history. To new viewers who haven’t encountered FNaF before, this could be detrimental to their experience with the film. Cawthon decided that there were too many different characters to follow in this script. It took away from the horror genre and leaned more towards being an action film.
The Mike Screenplay
The Mike screenplay was the most cryptic description Cawthon presented in his Reddit post, but he quickly cleared up the confusion by stating that the Mike Screenplay would set the basis for the movie.
Since they had finally decided on a script, Cawthon was careful to avoid giving any details which could potentially spoil plot points, but the script was described as ‘funny, scary, and has a great central story.’
However, in September 2021, it was revealed in an article that this script had also been scrapped. Following this, we haven’t received further information on whether or not a similar adaptation of this script will set the premise for the film.
Question: Is Five Nights at Freddy’s based on a true story?
Answer: The Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise is not based on a true story but on a series of conspiracy theories set in Chuck-e-Cheese. There are a few similarities between Fazbear Pizza and Chuck-e-Cheese, especially regarding the slightly haunting yet oddly charming animatronics. But outside of these comparisons and conspiracies, the FNaF franchise is set in a fictional universe with entirely fictional characters and stories.
Question: Will the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie be a Netflix Original?
Answer: There has been no rumor or suggestion that the Five Nights at Freddy’s film will be a Netflix original. Since Netflix hasn’t been involved in the production, I find it hard to believe it’s a Netflix Original. It’s hard to advise either way, given the lack of knowledge we have on the film currently. Still, I would lean more towards no going off the information we do have.
Question: Who will star in the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie?
Answer: Since there’s no confirmed script for the Five Nights at Freddy’s film, we haven’t had any updates regarding casting. So there’s no concrete answer as to who will be involved in the movie. But, a few rumors began circulating about Willem Dafoe being cast as Purple Guy. There’s no evidence or reason why these rumors started, but I think Dafoe would be an excellent fit for the role – so I hope it’s true!
Where Is Production Now?
It’s hard to say where production is as of right now, especially following Blum’s statement that news of the film is ‘dangerously close.’ Since the photograph from Henson’s Creature Shop, there have been no Five Nights at Freddy’s Film updates, and we are still waiting on a release date or even a trailer.
Even though we have very little information to go off, I am still incredibly excited to see the finished product when the film finally releases. I think the franchise would massively benefit from having a movie since it would make the game’s lore easier for fans to digest rather than scouring the internet for hours. Plus, I’d love to see the characters and animatronics come to life rather than just experience them in games and books.
If you want to keep up to date with news on the film, there are several social media pages dedicated to updating the fanbase with any film-related information.
So I’d recommend checking those out. Additionally, following both Cawthon and Blum on social media is the most reliable outlet for updates. But I think right now, all we can do is wait and hope that no more problems are encountered during the process, and hopefully, we will have the FNaF film we’ve been waiting years for!