Blumhouse: 10 Facts Horror Fans Should Never Be Afraid Of – Looper
Blumhouse: 10 Facts Horror Fans Should Never Be Afraid Of – Looper
Blumhouse Productions has quickly become one of the biggest names in Hollywood thanks to its creation of countless fan-favorite films across different genres, but especially horror. The brainchild of producer Jason Blum, this movie house has made waves over the past few decades, launching some of the biggest new franchises and embracing serious talent both on and behind the screen.
Since its creation, Blumhouse has produced everything from unique indie films to both scripted and unscripted television series, all under the same banner. They’re even venturing into the gaming world by producing various video game experiences under the name “Blumhouse Games” — soon the terrifying feeling of watching a Blumhouse horror movie can be felt first-hand. While you’ve definitely seen at least one Blumhouse movie at some point, you may not realize just how unique of a production company they really are. There’s tons of behind-the-scenes knowledge that will make you even more interested in the kind of films and television that they pump out, so here’s a list of Blumhouse facts that horror fans should never be afraid of.
Founded in 2000 by Jason Blum
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Would it surprise you to learn that Blumhouse was created and named after a guy named Jason Blum? Well, it’s true. Jason Blum is a dynamic film and television producer with over 30 years of experience in the entertainment business. Having graduated from Vassar College in 1991, he began a career in film production by working for both Miramax and Paramount Pictures throughout his early years.
After producing the 1995 film “Kicking and Screaming” with his former roommate and friend, Noah Baumbach, Blum spent the next five years building a network within Hollywood which gave him the clout to start his own business. He founded Blumhouse Productions in 2000 with a unique filmmaking philosophy that deliberately focused on giving filmmakers as much creative freedom as possible with as little money as feasible. These days, Blumhouse has transitioned into being one of the premiere production studios in the industry because of its proven track record of success. Jason Blum himself touched on this during an interview with Deadline by saying, “The company does very well and the financials of the company are great. As I said in an interview the other day, if someone offered me a trillion dollars, I would sell the company, but not for anything less than that.”
Small budgets with lots of creative freedom
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Blumhouse Productions has consistently operated with an admirable creative vision: to make high-quality, small-budget movies that give filmmakers as much creative freedom as possible. This sounds like an obvious thing to do if you want to make the best movies, but it is exceedingly rare in Hollywood for producers to have a hands-off approach to the films they’re funding.
This style proved to be incredibly successful for Jason Blum and his company since these low-budget flicks ended up being massive money-makers when they hit big with audiences. According to Deadline, Blum went into detail about why his company initially stayed within a particular budget range and how that went into their filmmaking ethos. He said, “The three-to-five million dollar figure is not a random picked number. That amount is about what we are able to recoup on the movies if we don’t get a wide release. In a worst-case scenario, we break even and maybe lose a little money but not very much, and everyone gets paid scale. That budget is reverse-engineered to thinking that if the movie isn’t in wide release, at least we get our money back and can keep our doors open.” While this may sound a little cold and calculating for someone in the business of making movie magic, it’s the kind of mindset that allowed Blumhouse Productions to become the king of indie horror.
Struck gold with the first Paranormal Activity
“Paranormal Activity” is the movie that turned Blumhouse from a proof of concept into a movie-making juggernaut. This 2007 found-footage horror blockbuster was directed by Oren Peli and followed the story of a couple living in a haunted house with the audience observing their home security system footage. “Paranormal Activity” ended up being one of the most profitable movies ever made (when considering return on investment) by making nearly $200 million at the box office worldwide. Because of this unparalleled success on such a small budget, this unlikely horror movie catapulted Blumhouse into being a household name.
According to an interview with Jason Blum on NPR, “Paranormal Activity” was so cheap to film that it actually cost less than “a used Toyota Camry” at $15,000. Blum went on to discuss why the film was able to be produced so cheaply without sacrificing the core elements of what made it terrifying for audiences. He said, “You have no crew, so you have one person and one person does everything. Oren, in his case, he had his girlfriend and his friend Amir. There were three of them, but there was – that was the whole crew. There was no sound. There was no makeup. There was no wardrobe.” Thanks to this skeleton crew of a production, Blumhouse was able to transform their $15,000 movie into a multi-million-dollar success and the world sat up and took notice.
Spawned new horror franchises like The Purge
While “Paranormal Activity” was Blumhouse’s first major success — and was quickly turned into a larger franchise with six more movies across the next decade — it isn’t the only hit series that this company has created. The Blumhouse model of low budget but high creativity allowed for several successful films to hit big with audiences over the years, mainly in the horror genre. The two biggest examples of this beyond “Paranormal Activity” are “Insidious” and “The Purge.”
“Insidious” came out in 2010 and was directed by James Wan, following the story of a family thrown into chaos when their son becomes possessed by a demon from another dimension. After becoming a blockbuster hit with nearly $100 million in sales at the box office, “Insidious” turned into a reasonably large franchise with four other movies being released including 2023’s “Insidious: Fear the Dark.” Another even more popular franchise to come out of Blumhouse is “The Purge,” which explores a world where for one night every year all crime is legal in the United States. This successful flick made almost $90 million at the box office and spawned four sequels, one prequel, and a short-lived television series.
Everything changed with Jordan Peele’s Get Out
Blumhouse had already struck gold many times in the early 2000s and 2010s, but financial success didn’t always equal universal critical acclaim. Movies like “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” and “The Purge” were beloved by fans and made tons of money yet they lacked the critical praise of more mainstream elevated horror from the likes of A24. However, all that changed for the low-budget studio when they teamed up with comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele for his breakout filmmaking debut.
2017’s “Get Out” was the brainchild of Jordan Peele, who became well-known for his comedic work on the Comedy Central sketch series “Key & Peele.” The story follows the developing nightmare of a Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) as he uncovers a disturbing conspiracy of his white girlfriend’s family while staying there for the weekend. While Peele certainly had some industry clout, it was still a gamble for producers to take on a more comedy-oriented artist and invest in their filmmaking debut in an entirely different genre. According to Vulture, Jason Blum jumped at the chance as soon as he heard about the burgeoning project by saying, “He spoke incredibly persuasively about the movie and how he was going to direct it. He was super-clear, and he was inspiring. We never looked back.” This proved to be a match made in heaven since “Get Out” was a colossal critical and commercial success upon release. “Get Out” was one of the first movies produced by Blumhouse to receive Academy Award nominations for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best actor, thus giving Blumhouse the mainstream critical recognition it had been previously lacking.
Produced more prestigious movies like Whiplash and BlacKkKlansman
Sony Pictures Classics
“Get Out” is one of the biggest Blumhouse movies to gain critical acclaim, but it’s not the only one. There have been other films backed by Blumhouse over the years that have gained serious steam as serious pieces of cinema. While it’s undeniable that Blumhouse spends most of its time creating low-budget horror shlock, it has occasionally dipped its toes into other genres that take themselves a lot more seriously.
One of the first examples of this experiment for Blumhouse was their shared production of Damien Chazelle’s 2014 film “Whiplash.” This psychological drama told the story of a student jazz musician who comes under the compelling, but abusive, mentorship of a perfectionist teacher. Blumhouse got involved early alongside Right of Way Films by funding Chazelle’s efforts to transform his original 15-page script into a much-loved short film – which made the rounds at festivals in 2013. From there, the feature film we all know and love was produced with the help of other companies like Bold Films and Sony Pictures Classics. “Whiplash” would go on to win the awards for best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons, best film editing, and best sound mixing at the 87th Academy Awards. More recently, Blumhouse once again ventured into prestigious fair by producing the 2018 Spike Lee crime comedy “BlacKkKlansman” about an African American detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. “BlacKkKlansman” was also nominated for multiple Oscars, picking up one win for best adapted screenplay.
Collaborates with other major directing talent
Since its inception, Blumhouse has attracted all sorts of incredible talent thanks to its commitment to allowing creative freedom for its writers and directors. Obviously, Damien Chazelle, Spike Lee, and Jordan Peele are some of the biggest names who’ve been attached to Blumhouse in one way or another, but there are even more than you may realize who has worked with Blum’s renowned company.
One of the earliest and most impactful artists to work with Blumhouse was James Wan, a man who has developed an impressive reputation in Hollywood for making extremely entertaining movies that people love to see. Wan got his start by creating the legendary “Saw” franchise of gory horror movies focused on people being tortured by a sadistic (albeit, creative) serial killer. His collaborations with Blumhouse began through the development of “Paranormal Activity,” but continued into other projects such as “Insidious” and “M3GAN.” Another big name who has frequently worked with Blumhouse is Mike Flanagan, who has become known for his projects like “Doctor Sleep,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” and “Midnight Mass.” Many of his early career films — such as “Oculus,” “Hush,” and “Oujia” — were done through Blumhouse. Additionally, even legendary filmmakers like M. Night Shyamalan have come calling to Blumhouse for the creation of his recent films “The Visit,” “Split,” and “Glass.”
Keeps making new hits like M3GAN
Blumhouse must have a deal with the devil because they can’t stop making fan-favorite hit movies no matter what they’re about. That’s right, it’s time to talk about “M3GAN.” This killer robot has become an overnight icon thanks to a successful marketing campaign, a perfect blend of horror and tongue-in-cheek comedy, and a genuinely great movie that took everyone by surprise.
“M3GAN” is the brainchild of Akela Cooper who wrote the screenplay based on a story by her and James Wan about an artificial android toy made to be a children’s companion who becomes filled with murderous intent. This movie ended up being a complete success both critically and commercially by landing an incredible 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and making over $170 million at the box office. People can’t get enough of “M3GAN” since, hilariously, the sarcastic kill-bot became an internet meme as fans became enamored with her bizarre dancing and gut-busting quips. Even Jason Blum himself couldn’t resist “M3GAN” fever and he actually dressed up as her during the film’s premiere in January 2023. Luckily, Blumhouse realized how much of a hit they’d made by greenlighting a sequel titled “M3GAN 2.0” which already has a release date of 2025.
Revived huge legacy franchises
For the most part, Blumhouse has earned its success by developing original movies with small budgets that get so big that they create their own new franchises. But this has drawn the attention of other production companies with huge established intellectual properties looking to continue making new installments but for less money. So, that’s exactly why Blumhouse began reviving legacy franchises with new reboots and legacy sequels.
The first and foremost of these legacy franchises to get the Blumhouse treatment is “Halloween,” which began as John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic following Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as she is being chased by the evil killer Michael Myers. Blumhouse helped produce the 2018 sequel “Halloween” directed by David Gordon Green and co-written by Danny McBride as a continuation of the first movie set 40 years later. This film did well at the box office and spawned two sequels, “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends.” Another example of this is the confusing but intriguing continuation of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” universe with the creation of 2016’s “Split” and 2019’s “Glass,” the latter of which brings back both Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass and Bruce Willis as David Dunn. Going forward, Blumhouse intends to collaborate with David Gordon Green to reboot “The Exorcist” franchise in an upcoming film slated for October 2023.
Continues successful partnership with Jordan Peele with Us
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. That’s the motto that Blumhouse and Jordan Peele have been operating under since their successful collaboration on “Get Out.” Because that film brought both Jason Blum and Jordan Peele significant financial and critical success, it seems like Peele was given free reign to continue making whatever movies he wanted under the Blumhouse banner. Blum discussed the continuation of their partnership during a 2019 interview with Variety by touching on how Peele didn’t ditch the horror genre after one big success. He said, “He’s incredibly generous and just wildly gifted. What’s really special about Jordan is, he didn’t have a big success in ‘Get Out’ and jump out of horror,” then added, “He doubled down on scary with ‘Us,’ which obviously made me very happy.”
“Us” was the next big film made by Jordan Peele and Blumhouse following the success of “Get Out.” This movie follows the story of the Wilson family as they’re stalked by feral doppelgängers of themselves, which leads to an even more sinister situation going on beneath the surface. “Us” starred an amazing cast of actors including Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker playing dual roles as their normal characters as well as their “tethered” doubles. With positive critical acclaim and a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Us” sealed the deal for how well Jordan Peele and Blumhouse work together.