Jason Blum, the producer behind Blumhouse Productions, has created one of the most successful production studios of the modern era. Creating modestly-budgeted horror movies, Blumhouse has generated some of the most profitable and acclaimed movies in the genre for over a decade now. Most recently, Blumhouse and James Wan's Atomic Monster (the production label behind The Conjuring) inked a deal to work with Blumhouse, creating a relationship that's likely to create some memorable content for genre fans in the years to come. It's hard to think of two filmmakers who have been more successful in the horror space in recent years, and the partnership has fans excited.
Blum and Wan took to Reddit earlier this week to conduct an AMA with fans. Naturally, when you have people who seem to turn everything to gold, one of the first questions (from _JD_48) was whether they had any regrets.
"I regret passing on The Blair Witch Project," Blum admitted.
It's hard to blame him. At the time of its release, The Blair Witch Project was the most profitable film of all time, earning $248.6 million from a budget of just $60,000. It's the aforementioned Blumhouse model in its purest form, but it was a movie that took the festival circuit by storm and went from having virtually no buzz, to being one of the most anticipated movies of the year.
"When I was working for Miramax, before Sundance, a videotape of The Blair Witch Project went to a lot of the buyers," Blum recalled in a 2015 interview with Nightmare magazine. "I passed; a bunch of people passed. The worst crime was that once it screened at the festival, we still all passed and when it was bought at Sundance it was one of the smaller deals of the festival; the big deal was one I was involved in called Happy Texas, which did not do well after we bought it. And then for six to nine months, from when Sundance ended to when the movie opened, I watched the movie marching towards success and was reminded by my bosses what a dope I was. What was formative about the experience is that people who were older than I was and who knew more than I did also passed on this movie."
Blum and Blair Witch could have been a match made in Heaven, too. A franchise like The Purge shows that Blumhouse is able to figure out how to effectively use a pretty generic premise to create a series of beloved movies. Blair Witch, on the other hand, had a sequel so disastrous that it put the franchise on ice for 15 years. Released in 2000, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 earned just $48 million on a $15 million budget. When the franchise returned again in 2016, it was with Blair Witch, which fared better -- it earned $45 million against a $5 million budget -- but given the franchise's history was still considered a disappointment.
Blumhouse and Atomic Monster's latest movie is M3gan, which opens in January. You can check out the official synopsis for that film below.
M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a life-like doll programmed to be a child's greatest companion and a parent's greatest ally. Designed by brilliant toy-company roboticist Gemma (Get Out's Allison Williams), M3GAN can listen and watch and learn as she becomes friend and teacher, playmate and protector, for the child she is bonded to.
When Gemma suddenly becomes the caretaker of her orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady (Violet McGraw, The Haunting of Hill House), Gemma's unsure and unprepared to be a parent. Under intense pressure at work, Gemma decides to pair her M3GAN prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems -- a decision that will have unimaginable consequences.