12 things you need to know about the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie

Are you ready for Freddy? Not Krueger or Mercury, that is: the animatronic villain Freddy Fazbear, from the hugely popular horror video game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s. About to make his big screen debut in Blumhouse’s eerie film adaptation, the nasty pizzeria mascot (and all his possessed buddies) are set to slay an even greater audience of unwitting visitors.

Here’s our rundown of everything you need to know about the big-screen version of this beloved series, from the (human) cast members to all the effort that’s gone into each big, fuzzy, not-so-loveable animatronic. Stay out of the ballpit, okay?

1. It’s Blumhouse’s first ever horror film to be based on a video game

Known for punching way above their modest budgets, horror studio Blumhouse is the perfect home for a FNAF feature. They already made robotic childhood friends iconically memeable—with this year’s release M3GAN—and have a knack for making utterly haunting films that can still be marketed to younger audiences.

2023’s actually a huge year for Jason Blum’s production company, with Insidious: The Red Door and Exorcist: Believer bolstering one especially spooky release calendar. We hope diehard fans of the game will feel satisfied by the company’s take on their fave freaky franchise.

2. Game creator Scott Cawthon is a co-writer and producer of the film

In the early 2010s, devout Christian and video game developer Cawthon was heartbroken when the animal characters in one of his family-friendly, faith-based games were criticised for being creepy. In 2014, he would turn that perceived bug into a feature, by purposefully turning grinning kid’s restaurant mascots into terrifying ghouls: Five Nights at Freddy’s was born, spawning eight games in its main series and four well-received spin-offs. OG auteur Scott firmly holds the reins of the game’s screen adaptation, producing and co-writing the script as well as getting sole credit for the film’s story.

3. …and he’s revealed multiple versions of the screenplay that didn’t work out

Cawthon played a fun lil switcheroo on the FNAF subreddit back in 2020, warning eager fanboys of “bad news” surrounding the upcoming adaptation…before joking that the only bad news was that the search for the perfect film script was over. Ha Ha. Okay.

Giving intimate insight into the movie’s development process, the video game mogul outlined a heap of rejected plot ideas, giving reasons as to why each one wasn’t a good fit for his vision. Finally, he lands on “The Mike screenplay”, asking himself “why didn’t I think of this before?” and noting that the draft had “the best pieces from all the previous screenplays…it’s fun, it’s scary, and it has a great central story!” So who is Mike and why should we care?

4. Josh Hutcherson stars as heroic security guard Mike Schmidt

A teen heartthrob and Hunger Games star, Hutcherson plays a down-on-his-luck lad named Mike, who unfortunately takes on a job as night watchman at the defunct Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Now haunted by the souls of dead children, it’s no joyous Chuck E. Cheese playcentre: and at midnight, the business’s haunted animatronics come to life and kill any humans unlucky enough to be grabbing a late-night slice of ‘za. Forced to bring his little sister Abby (Piper Rufio) along for his doomed nocturnal shift, Mike will face off against the fuzzy-faced entities, to save her from being claimed by Freddy and his goons.

5. Scream king Matthew Lillard is franchise villain William Afton

All horror fans have a soft spot for Matty Lil, ever since he won our hearts as Scream‘s original sicko Stu Macher. That’s why his casting as William Afton, the evil co-founder of the Freddy Fazbear restaurant chain, feels oh so right. Although Afton was only introduced in the third main FNAF game, he’s since been retroactively established as the gaming franchise’s main big bad. Lillard’s goofy charms will work in contrast to the dark lore of this grim character.

6. The legendary Jim Henson’s Creature Shop worked on the animatronic critters

When it comes to big-screen critters—adorable, terrifying, or even somewhere in between—you simply can’t do better than the late Jim Henson’s puppet company. Freddy, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy were scary enough as CG characters in the game series, but they’ll be taken to the next level by practical, full-suit performances, with Jim Henson Company puppeteers controlling the life-size baddies’ head and body movements.

Producer Jason Blum’s behind-the-scenes Tweet above shows off the painstaking work involved in bringing FNAF’s villains into our dimension. Apparently for rare scenes in which the mascots are seen walking or dancing, one puppeteer would work their entire body, while another puppeteer piloted its head movements remotely. It takes a village.

7. The movie cycled through 3 directors before landing on Emma Tami

Horror-fantasy director Gil Kenan could’ve been a good fit for the FNAF movie, having directed the similarly awesome Halloween flick Monster House…buuuut he backed out of the project in 2017, after working on its development for two years. And Harry Potter/Home Alone director Chris Columbus was a solid choice too….untiiiil he too was moved along in 2021.

Does relatively unknown director Emma Tammi have what it takes to step into their spooky shoes? We reckon so, after seeing her bleak 2018 horror film The Wind. She also worked on this final edition of the film’s screenplay, guaranteeing a distinct authorial touch to a much-reworked cinematic property.

8. Awesome horror composers The Newton Brothers penned the creepy score

Fun fact: these guys are not actually brothers! But John Grush and Taylor Stewart do have their bonafides in the horror genre, having frequently collaborated with genre star Mike Flanagan on everything from Oculus to his upcoming series The Fall of the House of Usher. The pair were apprentices under Hans Zimmer and have co-scored projects with Danny Elfman, so there’s no need to doubt their cred when it comes to haunting soundscapes.

9. Producer Jason Blum has hinted at some massive star cameos

Can we trust the enigmatic Mr Blum when he slyly suggests that Jamie Lee Curtis is keen to appear in the FNAF film? Blum has said that the horror legend and recent Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner is “a huge fan”, and “talked about her love of Five Nights At Freddy’s” at Texas’s Fantastic Fest. Whether or not she could actually nab some screentime isn’t entirely clear though: “I hope so”, Blum laughed. “I’m thinking about it.”

Another incredible get would be FNAF superfan Jack Black, who has expressed his love for the games on TikTok with song, some gentle moves, and very high sweatpants. End credits sequence with Black merely performing this sweet little dance on a loop? pls?

10. The film’s out just in time for Halloween—and goes direct to streaming in the US, too

It’s been a while since we’ve had a horror release that’ll frighten parents perhaps even moreso than their screen-addicted kids—even M3GAN, with its relative lack of onscreen gore, was a lil too spooky for budding genre fans. In cinemas at the end of October, the FNAF movie could be the perfect All Hallows’ Eve outing for kids seeking a scare. For US fans, the film drops in cinemas and on streaming platform Peacock upon the same date: whether this is still a clever release tactic or not remains to be seen. Stay tuned to Flicks for more info on when Fazbear addicts everywhere else might be able to stream the film.

11. Expect up to three FNAF films in total—if not more

“Is Blumhouse planning a Five Nights at Freddy’s trilogy?” Good question, Fangoria: the trusted horror mag has reported that we may be treated to at least two more film adaptations of the game franchise. Villain Matthew Lillard let the giant animatronic cat out of the bag by revealing he’s signed on for a “very fun…three-picture deal with Universal and Blumhouse”. A trilogy sounds pretty reasonable if the game’s fanbase translates into box office results…and from there, we’ve got a towering pile of FNAF spin-offs and lore to delve into.

12. Fans are, uhh, a bit too onboard already. Calm down y’all.

FNAF exploded into a true Gen Z obsession once scaredy-cat YouTubers began posting Let’s Play videos of themselves trying to survive Freddy Fazbear’s funhouse of horrors. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s already loving, sexy fanart of Josh Hutcherson’s lead character, and hyperactive fancams editing together the best bits of the film’s tantalising latest trailers.

For a game franchise that’s taken off amongst some very juvenile, iPad-kid circles, there sure is a lot of spicy fan-made art in the #FNAFmovie tag, dotted everywhere across the internet. We hope the Five Nights at Freddy’s film strikes a nice balance between satisfying those rabid hordes of trueheads, and welcoming new diners into the darkness of the pizzeria.