Locarno 2022: Jason Blum, the star producer of horror films, reveals the recipe for his…

American producer Jason Blum is at the Locarno Film Festival where he is honored with a special prize for all of his work. Meet the one who makes the whole world shiver.

Jason Blum is the king of horror movies. Since the success of the first Paranormal Activitythe producer and his company Blumhouse continue to occupy a considerable place in the Hollywood landscape. Insidious, American Nightmare, get-out or more recently Black Phoneall these films use the same formula: new stories for small budgets.

Guest of honor at the Locarno Film Festival, Jason Blum receives the award for best independent producer. A distinction that salutes the work of this name that has become essential. AlloCine and a handful of journalists were able to meet him to lift the veil on the recipe for his triumph.

Horror movies have always existed. How and why did you succeed in building such a great brand, where others failed? What is the reason, in your opinion?

Jason Blum: I think our approach to film production is different. In Hollywood, when you’re successful, you have to make more expensive movies. A filmmaker is going to make a 10 million dollar movie, and it’s going to work. Then this director’s agent goes and gets a $50 million project and I think that’s stupid. First of all, one should never search for a movie based on its budget. Rather, you have to be looking for a great story.

That’s what we do, but the budget has to be tiny. In general, we think it’s not sexy or less prestigious to have lower budgets. The more low-budget films we make, the easier it is for us to give freedom to filmmakers. It’s what sets us apart from most other Hollywood companies.

We take a lot of inspiration from the French system for auteur cinema and we apply it to commercial horror films. We give our directors the final cut, complete creative freedom. They know they will be able to do whatever they want.

Since Paranormal Activity, one of your first hits, so much has changed. How has this strategy, focused on low-budget films, evolved?

It’s impossible to run a business based on a single formula. Other things are happening in the world, so we have to adapt. What has changed the most is that our films are no longer worth a million dollars. get-out of Jordan Peele cost over $4 million. Our smaller budgets are getting more expensive.

We also produce many well-known franchises, such as Halloween, Invisible Man Where The Exorcist. We do it because nobody let us back then, now it’s the opposite and I think it’s fun to do.

The company is much bigger now. We make fewer films than before, but we try to take more time on each of them. Almost everything we do now is shown in cinemas. Eight years ago, 50% of films went to theaters and 50% did not.

Locarno 2022: jason blum, the star producer of horror films, reveals the recipe for his...
Universal Pictures

The film “Black Phone”, produced by Jason Blum, was one of the surprise hits of the summer of 2022.

After the pandemic, the context has become more complicated. However, some of your original films, like Black Phone, are great successes. What conclusion do you draw from this?

What’s great is that we’re going to see more original movies, not just original horror movies, hopefully, but original Hollywood movies in general. It’s good for the audience, because I think it’s important to have a balance. It’s good to have Halloween and Invisible Manbut it’s also nice to have outputs like Black Phone.

You also produce a lot of documentaries on very important subjects, such as Pray Away Where A Secret Love. Why do you think it is important to develop these kinds of projects?

I think if you have a functioning company in Hollywood, it’s a liability. It should be used to highlight stories that are not necessarily seen or heard and that could make the world a better place. When you have that much power, you can make fun commercial films to make money, but you also have to make more niche films and help them grow.

If the rooms disappear, I want to change jobs.

What can you tell us about the rest of The Exorcist ?

I can’t wait. That David GordonGreen did with Halloween was great, and I think it really struck a good balance between keeping the spirit of the original and bringing something new. David is the first one I contacted for The Exorcist. So I was very happy that he wanted to do it.

We will start filming very soon and we have a real story. When we make a movie like Black Phone, we never think of a sequel, we only think of one film. But when we do The Exorcist, we can afford to think bigger. We’ve got three parts planned and there’s a great cast, so I’m very excited about that.

Outside of superhero movies, sequels and remakes, what trends do you see coming for the next 5 or 10 years?

I think the distribution model will become more efficient. There will be shorter broadcast windows, between the theatrical release and the VOD release. Maybe not in France, but in the United States and other countries. A shorter spread means films should be less expensive to market and projects will be better reimbursed. And if the windows are shorter and the films are released for less time in theaters, there will certainly be more room for different types of films. Maybe that will happen. I’m not sure of it.

Locarno 2022: jason blum, the star producer of horror films, reveals the recipe for his...
Universal Pictures

“Halloween Ends” concludes the new trilogy launched by Jason Blum in 2018.

What is your commitment for the theatrical release of films?

Our society does not function without theatrical distribution. I was very worried about this two years ago, at the start of the pandemic. People said that the cinemas would never come back, that 80 or 90% of the activity would disappear. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. After seeing what the business looked like without movie theaters, my commitment to this topic is more important than ever. If the rooms disappear, I want to change jobs. It is not worth the trouble.

Do you have any goals for the future?

I want to win an Oscar. I’ve been nominated three times, but I really want to win one (he smiles, editor’s note).

Interview by Thomas Desroches, in Locarno, August 6, 2022.

The Locarno Film Festival runs from August 3 to 13, 2022.

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