Over the past decade, Blumhouse has become synonymous with noteworthy horror films, as Jason Blum’s production company has delivered one hit film after another, including Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Get Out, 2018’s Halloween, and many, many more.
Now available On Demand, this week’s new release of You Should Have Left finds Blumhouse delivering their fourth movie so far in just 2020 alone, following Fantasy Island, The Invisible Man, and The Hunt. Kevin Bacon stars in You Should Have Left as a man with a troubled past who rents a house in Wales with his notably younger wife (Amanda Seyfried) and their daughter, only to find himself plagued by nightmares and visions. Jurassic Park and Spider-Man screenwriter David Koepp wrote and directed the film, which reunites him with Bacon, following their previous collaboration on Stir of Echoes.
Jason Blum stopped by our interview series Hey Fandom! this week to discuss the release of You Should Have Left, while also answering questions both from us and some of the many fans of his films about upcoming projects like Halloween Kills, Dracula, the next Paranormal Activity, and more – while promising us that Happy Death Day will eventually get a third installment!
THE BLUM & BACON CONNECTION
When it came to collaborating with a star as iconic as Kevin Bacon on You Should Have Left, Blum said, “It was really fun. We had a meal on the upper west side of Manhattan about 10 years ago. We said we should work together and now we have, so I’m glad that came true. We’re friendly and I hope we do more together. We had a great experience on this and the difference about this is is that he was a producer on it. He actually found the original story so we were partnered on it from the very beginning. He was on it before I was!”
Having done so many horror movies at this point, there have inevitably been other Blumhouse projects before that have tackled haunted house stories, but You Should Have Left takes a specific approach to that subgenre, in terms of what Bacon’s character, Theo, is experiencing. Said Blum, “The reason I wanted to do the movie is we’ve done a lot of haunted house movies and now if we do one, I really wanted it to feel different than the work we’ve done before. This one, in the script, felt like that and that’s what made us want to do it and that’s why we jumped on.”
You Should Have Left follows Blumhouse’s recent release of The Invisible Man, which also featured a large, ominous, but notably modern house, compared to the traditional use of much older-looking houses for horror films. Said Blum, “That house in Invisible Man is pretty great too. Different looking, but a terrific house. I think the Paranormal Activity house was contemporary [too] and in a funny way, that’s almost scarier.”
You Should Have Left is set in a rare part of the world for a US-made horror film, Wales, and Blum noted, “The script was always set there. David very much wanted to shoot there and I said ‘If we can make it for our number, I don’t care where we shoot it’ and David and our production people figured out a way to make it to Wales. It’s the first movie we ever shot there. It was a great experience there and I would certainly go back.”
ABOUT THAT HALLOWEEN TRAILER…
One question Blum laughed that he knew was coming was when a fan asked when we might get a trailer for the next installment of the Halloween franchise, Halloween Kills, which currently is scheduled for release on October 16.
Blum explained that they simply didn’t want to begin promoting the newest Michael Myers movie until they had a better idea of how things were going to play out as theaters begin to re-open in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. As he explained, “The reason [a trailer] hasn’t come out yet is because we don’t know what the world is going to look like in October. Right now we’re still planning on releasing the movie in October but if there’s no way to release it [theatrically], then we’re not sure. So we’re not going to release the trailer until we really are very sure when people are going to get to see the movie. So that’s the hold up. But we have a great trailer and a great movie and I can’t wait for everybody to see it.”
Halloween Kills features many returning cast members from the original Halloween joining Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode this time out, including Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace, Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett, and Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers. Asked if it was surreal seeing these people step back into these roles four decades later, Blum replied, “Yeah. It’s always great and there’s so much love for the franchise. John Carpenter’s idea was such a great idea and it’s amazing it’s still going on. David Gordon Green’s interpretation of the movie with what he did on the first Halloween that we did, I’m really proud of it. I think he walked the perfect line of bringing enough back of what the original Halloween felt like but also making it new so it was a discovery and worth seeing and I think he does that again on our second film.”
With Blumhouse now making Halloween films, Blum was asked by a fan about the possibility of the company tackling another famous slasher series, Friday the 13th. That series has gone through some notably complex battles over the rights in recent years, and Blum said, “I have the same question! I don’t have an answer to that. But like I’ve said before, I would love to do it and it’s very complicated, but I hope someday. How about that? It’s not the answer I want to hear because I wish it was right away, but it isn’t.”
HAPPY DEATH DAY 3’S DAY WILL COME
Blumhouse has made several sequels now, but one of their most audacious was Happy Death Day 2U, which built on the popular first film – with its bold Groundhog Day-type hook — in a wild way, adding a big sci-fi element. Unfortunately, 2U wasn’t nearly as successful as the first, financially speaking, and initially, both Blum and Happy Death Day series director Christopher Landon seemed very pessimistic about a third film happening, despite a huge set-up for it in a mid-credit scene in the sequel.
However, more recently, both Blum and Landon — along with star Jessica Rothe (“Tree Gelbman“) — have said Happy Death Day 3 is looking more likely, and when asked by Fandom if he would bet we would eventually get a third film, Blum replied, “I would bet we are. I’m on the case! There’s nothing concrete, but I’m very determined to make the movie. Chris is very determined to make the movie. Somehow, someway, we’re getting that movie made.”
Blum remarked, “There are few movies that I’ve done that really fall into disappointing that the audience didn’t connect to them in the way that I thought that they would have or could have. And that might not be because of the movie, it could’ve been the release date or the marketing or what was happening in the world. Who knows? But that one [Happy Death Day 2U] always sticks in my craw because I just thought Chris Landon did a great job on the first movie and a great, great job on the second movie. We would’ve already had a third movie if that second movie had worked financially – It worked in every other way but commercially. I just loved the movie, and like I said, I’m going to get a third one made, somehow, someway!”
THE ACTIVITY RETURNS
Meanwhile, development is also underway at Blumhouse on a new Paranormal Activity film. Paranormal Activity was the movie that first put Blumhouse on the map and asked by a fan if we might see the return of original protagonist Katie Featherstone in the film – with the caveat that the fan knew Blum likely couldn’t say for sure yet – the producer replied, with a laugh, “You’re right, I couldn’t tell you if I knew. We’re gonna do the movie. We’re developing the movie, but I don’t know where exactly the story’s going to land. We’re talking about different things. A hundred percent, we’re making a movie, we just haven’t gotten that far with the development. But I’ll tell you this. I would love to bring her back and she’s a great actress and she’s an old friend and I hope we get to bring her back.”
Looking back on Paranormal Activity, Blum said, “It was the birth of Blumhouse and I really challenged myself with the task of like ‘How do I take the success of Paranormal Activity and build a company that makes lots of different kinds of fun, successful, good scary movies?’ So it holds a very special place in my heart, that first Paranormal Activity, and it was touch-and-go for three years. I mean, [director] Oren Peli was living in my guest house and we were told it was going to go, it wasn’t going to go, was going to go, wasn’t going to go for a long, long time. But I learned an enormous amount and I’m extremely fond of that first movie because it changed my life.”
DRACULA AND UNIVERSAL MONSTERS’ BLUMHOUSE FUTURE
Following the success of The Invisible Man, Blumhouse is now working on a new version of Dracula, from director Karyn Kasuma (Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation) and written by her frequent collaborators, Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay. Blum was tight-lipped on details, but offered, “The only thing I can say is I called the group in charge of that script and I said ‘I really want my script!’ I made that call last week. So I’m hoping I have it soon, but I just don’t have it yet. I can’t wait to make it.”
Asked what it was like getting to tackle some of the classic Universal Monsters, Blum said, “It’s awesome. It’s really exciting. I remember when I first came to Universal ten years ago, that was one of the things — Donna Langley brought me in and part of her thinking was the studio had such a tradition of making these great horror movies, we should get a producer who does that back to the lot. So I’m glad to finally be making those great monster movies. It’s super cool.”
A fan asked Blum if he’d like to head up what was once called the “Dark Universe” at Universe – and oversee all of the Universal Monster films in the way Kevin Feige does for the Marvel movies. However, Universal is currently developing some of their Monster movies away from Blumhouse, and Blum remarked, “I would absolutely accept the task, but I don’t think that’s going to happen because the studio has been developing a lot of the different ones. They’re down the road with different people and they made this decision to do it that way so the ship has already sailed.” He smiled, and added, “But if they change their mind, I’m in!”
FIVE NIGHTS PROGRESSION
One project Blumhouse has been developing is an adaptation of the game Five Nights at Freddy’s. Asked by a fan for an update, Blum noted, “We have been working on it for a long time,” while adding that the film’s development status is “Super active. So I really feel like we have a very good shot at getting to see a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. I feel like it’s really moving forward. It’s not stalled or anything else. It might seem that way because we haven’t done any announcements about it, but it’s not stalled. It’s moving rapidly forward and I don’t want to put a timeline on it, but soon we’ll get a movie. I really feel confident about it.”
THE BLUMHOUSE APPROACH
Blumhouse is known for making films at far lower budgets than most major studio releases, while often bringing in the kind of money many films could only dream of. Speaking about why more films don’t follow this approach and why studios so frequently feel a bigger budget is better, Blum observed, “Luckily for my business, no one is following what I do, but you know, it’s not great for the moviegoer, for the fans out there, because I really do think in most cases, throwing money at these things makes them worse, not better, because it makes them more timid about the creative choices that they’re making. But for whatever reason, it’s not even the studios as much. It starts really with [talent] representation and as soon as you say ‘I want to get the money up front,’ the budget starts to go up and there’s no way to control it. I never say that. I say ‘I don’t want anything up front.”
Blum stressed, “You have to be really firm, because a lot of times the studios would rather pay you up front because if the thing is successful, the studio winds up better off paying up front than giving someone a share of the profit, so you have to be adamant that you don’t want money up front. For whatever reason, that’s really tough for agents, lawyers, but most of all, I thin, the clients. I think when the clients say ‘I could have X up front or wait and gamble,’ most people take the up front money. And that balloons the budget of the movies. That’s where it starts.”
Of course “wait and gamble” has paid off handsomely for some Blumhouse stars – Ethan Hawke is said to have made millions by being paid a relatively tiny amount up front for films like The Purge and Sinister, only to make plenty when those films became big hits, thanks to his deal for part of the profits. Said Blum, “On the Ethan thing, I love when people who work with us do well. It’s like people complain about paying taxes. I love to pay a lot of taxes! I do pay a lot of taxes. I’m lucky I pay a lot of taxes. Because it means I’ve got a lot of income. If people who are working with me are doing well it means we’re doing well and really I’m a believer in sharing our success not only credit-wise but financially.”
TV shows and films are slowly looking to go back into production in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, but with many additional precautions in place – something difficult no matter what, but which becomes even more complicated on giant movies, with massive crews. Blum said when it came to Blumhouse being able to begin producing films again soon, “We’re well-positioned, just because of low budgets. I think the first movies and TV shows that are going to come back are lower budgeted because it’s risky to come back. You know, someone gets sick you have to shut down. You’ve got to get insurance for that. So I think the production we’re going to see come back is lower-budgeted production. And that’s good for us because that’s largely what we do on the film side.”
You Should Have Left is available On Demand now.
Check out our full Hey, Fandom! chat with Jason Blum below!