“Are people upset? I had people tell me people are upset,” said Jason Blum after I congratulated him via Zoom on the day of the trailer release for the movie The Craft: Legacy which he produced.
Blum, 51, has become one of the most prolific producers in history. His specialty is horror and suspense and as I watched him fidget on his phone before my mic was live I wondered who he was texting and which project he was checking in on. But that’s the nature of the beast. His entries in IMDb take about ten scrolls to get through. One of his latest is Welcome to the Blumhouse, a collection of films for Amazon Prime members.
In the business since about 1995, Blum is behind some of the most recognizable horror films in history: Paranormal Activity, Sinister, The Purge and Get Out just to name a few.
Today we are talking about Welcome to the Blumhouse among other things. Blum is really approachable and I’m struck by how handsome he is even on a computer camera. It doesn’t seem like the weight of the industry lays on his shoulders. He’s willing to discuss pretty much anything so I try to get him to talk not only about the Amazon series, but other things like pushing Halloween Kills to 2021.
How did Welcome to the Blumhouse come about?
“You know, Jennifer Salke who runs Amazon Studios and I are pals and we were speaking at a conference together and she actually approached me with the idea, and I thought we have this series which we’re finishing up for Hulu called Into the Dark. I learned things from it. There were certain things I liked about those movies and certain things I liked less; there were too many. I do like the idea of an anthology. I really thought we needed something to hold it together and we came up with this idea of making it 100-percent underrepresented filmmakers which I thought was much cooler than, like, ‘let’s make ‘em all about like spooky kids, or you know, some kind of supernatural.’ Instead of doing that make them whatever they want to be; as long as they’re scary or genre movies, but make the authors of the movies all from groups who are not represented enough as directors. I think that’s a great way to pool these together and they’re not necessarily about race or gender or ethnicity, but they’re stories specific to the people telling them. I thought that was interesting and a fun thing to do.”
Were there more than just these four this season? Or were these the ones that stood out for you?
“These were definitely my four favorite ones. But the thing is we got tons and tons. There were so many cool ideas. Hopefully, we can do this every October with Amazon for a long time because there were a lot more that I would like to do that we didn’t get to do in the original eight.”
How did you get Phylicia Rashad (Black Box) involved?
“I wish I could take credit for that. I did not. And I don’t know the story of how she got involved. I wish I could take credit.”
What is your take on streaming services?
“I think streaming services are the future so we all, as producers, we gotta feel good about them because if we don’t feel good about them then we have no future. I think there are a lot of things that are great about them. The things that we make can be seen by more people than ever before. It’s easier to find things that you like. It’s easier to reach a specific audience; the marketing can be more targeted. They’ve got a ton of capital to provide us producers to make things. I think that part is great. The thing that I think is less great and challenging connected to a lot of those things is that a lot of times working with a streamer you feel like you’re making one of 5000 tuna fish sandwiches. That is not fun. And one of the really unique experiences I had with Amazon on this particular series of movies is that I felt like the relationship I have with a theatrical partner. They came up with the title. They came up with this amazing poster. Personally, I love it. They did this trailer that I really like. On streaming the way that we get paid—you get paid upfront. So, if nine billion people see it or one person sees it you make the same amount of money. So in a movie, even if you’re not happy with the marketing or whatever if it’s a big hit you’re financially rewarded. With streaming there’s no financial reward if it’s a big hit or not a big hit—or you’ve already gotten a reward is another way to say that. So, all that’s left is if you feel like what you made is being treated carefully. Like someone cares about it, that they’re interested in it—they want to give it the best shot it has. If you don’t have that it’s a little disheartening. With Amazon, it felt like I had the energy of the company behind getting people to see this thing that we’ve done.”
I think there might be Blumhouse channel in the future?
“That’s one of my mid to long-term goals to have a ‘button.’ I’m not going to do a stand-alone subscription service I’m not going to compete with my friends at Apple and Amazon and Netflix. But I’d like a button on one of those platforms where there was a Blumhouse button, and you could find all our movies–all our shows–there and our new stuff there, and it would be like a channel on one of the platforms. I think that would be really cool.”
You keep recharging the genre. You topped Blair Witch with Paranormal Activity as far as meta-marketing. You keep doing it and you keep doing it. Why did you choose horror out of every other genre?
“Clearly from what we just talked about, I’m not interested in doing shows and movies that like seven people see. I think horror is a really cool way to tell stories about universal themes to get people talking about things. But also it gives the marketers at movie companies or television companies or streaming companies something to hang their hat on so there’s a way to get people to see what we’re doing. That’s one reason, and I think the other reason is I’ve always been kind of an oddball. I’m less into like—I mean I don’t mind it, but it’s not like I like the violence of horror movies; I love the weirdness of horror movies, and I love like gross stuff in that way. And I love that the horror community is kinda ostracized a little bit, I kinda like that too. Although Jordan Peele kinda fucked that up a little bit (laughs)—you can win an Oscar for doing a horror movie. Just kidding. But uh, that’s why. I’ll always love doing horror.”
One last question: How difficult was it for you to move Halloween Kills to 2021?
“You know for me it wasn’t that difficult. In August I called Universal and I said let’s not play with fire here. I think there are very few movies that are unequivocally theatrical experience movies. There are very few left and that one of them and I said, ‘let’s not play with fire here, let’s move this.’ We had Halloween Ends dated in ’21 so we just put it on where Halloween Ends—we just shifted the whole thing back. So I didn’t belabor it. There was no part of me that wanted to stick this October. And luckily, they agreed. It wasn’t too difficult.”
Welcome to the Blumhouse is on Amazon Prime. Season one includes:
Black Box (Oct. 6): After losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, a single father undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.
The Lie (Oct. 6): When their teenaged daughter confesses to impulsively killing her best friend, two desperate parents attempt to cover up the horrific crime, leading them into a complicated web of lies and deception.
Evil Eye (Oct. 13): A seemingly perfect romance turns into a nightmare when a mother becomes convinced her daughter’s new boyfriend has a dark connection to her own past.
Nocturne (Oct. 13): Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing twin sister when she discovers a mysterious notebook belonging to a recently deceased classmate.