The Blair Witch Project | Original creators seem blindsided by Blumhouse reboot

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“They haven’t talked to any of us,” says production designer of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, referring to Blumhouse’s upcoming reboot.

On the 10th April, Blumhouse announced that it’s set to make a reboot of The Blair Witch Project, a franchise that began with the found footage original in 1999. Curiously, it sounds as though the people that made the first, sensationally popular film found out about the reboot at the same time the rest of us did.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, production designer Ben Rock said that neither he nor anyone else who worked on the 1999 horror had been contacted by Blumhouse.

“It’s bittersweet, honestly,” Rock said of the new film.

Nor is Rock the only person who sounded blindsided by the announcement. Taking to Instagram, Joshua Leonard – who starred in the original Blair Witch – wrote that he “didn’t know anything about” the reboot until a friend sent him a screengrab of a Variety story which, disconcertingly, contained an image of his younger self in the film.

As Ben Rock himself notes, the Blair Witch franchise was swiftly taken away from its creators shortly after the original became an unexpected indie smash 25 years ago. But with neither its immediate sequel, 2000’s Book Of Shadows, nor 2016’s Blair Witch, making quite the same impact, Rock argues that consulting with the people who came up with the concept might have been a smart idea.

“Neither one of the sequels connected with audiences the way they wanted it to connect,” Rock said. “And so it might at least be worth talking to some of the original creators.”

It’s something the first film’s co-producer Mike Monello agrees with. “Radical idea: You could try putting this project in the hands of the original team that made the first one,” he wrote on Twitter. “You know, the team that actually has an entire franchise plan to reinvent what a Blair Witch movie could be?”

Back on Instagram, Joshua Leonard writes candidly about how he and his collaborators were treated as Hollywood outsiders. Despite grossing almost $250m worldwide, the makers of The Blair Witch Project only received $300,000 between them, according to Leonard. He added that co-star Michael Williams was “back moving furniture” within a year of the film coming out, and that “because we used our real names in the first film, the studio claimed copyright,” resulting in a legal battle to win them back.

“I’m so proud of our little punk-rock movie, and I LOVE the fans who keep the flames burning,” Leonard writes. “But at this point, it’s 25 years of disrespect from the folks who’ve pocketed the lion’s share (pun intended) of the profits from OUR work.”

Leonard says he’s being trying for months to organise an anniversary screening of The Blair Witch Project in order to “raise money for artists without healthcare.” Perhaps the publicity will at least loosen the wheels on that front.

There’s no word as to when the Blair Witch reboot will emerge yet, but given it’s 25 years old this year, it’s likely we’ll hear more about it soon.

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