Blair Witch Project | Original stars lobby Lionsgate for residuals and creative input

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The stars of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project have called on Lionsgate to do the right thing following last week’s reboot announcement.

Earlier this month, we learned that Lionsgate would be partnering with Blumhouse to reboot The Blair Witch Project, the 1999 smash hit that redefined the horror landscape, rocket-fuelling the found footage sub-genre and becoming one of the most successful indie films ever made.

Then came the news that the original film’s creators hadn’t been consulted regarding the new project. Worse still, they weren’t even informed about it, having to find out about the reboot at the same tame as everybody else.

It looks like the core creative trio of Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams are pushing back, with the three filmmakers releasing a public statement in which they propose to be recompensed for payments that they never received because they were too young and inexperienced to negotiate for them at the time of the film’s acquisition.

Apparently, ‘the trio is asking for residuals “for acting services rendered in the original [Blair Witch Project], equivalent to the sum that would’ve been allotted through SAG-AFTRA, had we had proper union or legal representation when the film was made.’

The statement goes on to say that Donahue, Leonard and Williams want to be consulted ‘on any future Blair Witch reboot, sequel, prequel, toy, game, ride, escape room, etc…, in which one could reasonably assume that Heather, Michael and Josh’s names and/or likenesses will be associated for promotional purposes in the public sphere.

Read more: The Blair Witch Project | Where the reboot could take the story next

‘Our film has now been rebooted twice, both times were a disappointment from a fan/box office/critical perspective. Neither of these films were made with significant creative input from the original team,” read the statement shared on Facebook. “As the insiders who created the Blair Witch and have been listening to what fans love & want for 25 years, we’re your single greatest, yet thus-far unutilised secret-weapon!’

The team also want Lionsgate to commit to a fund to aid young filmmakers with fresh and exciting ideas: ‘The Blair Witch Grant to be created with a 60k prize, like the original film’s budget, which would be awarded to an unknown/aspiring genre filmmaker to assist in making their first feature film. This is a GRANT, not a development fund, hence @lionsgate will not own any of the underlying rights to the project.’

Everything here seems reasonable, especially if the team haven’t been getting residuals for their onscreen appearances for the last quarter of a century. Given how much cash the film has made in the years since (and will continue to make), that only seems right. The ball is now in Lionsgate’s court; we’ll let you know what happens next.

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