Jason Blum Talks Blumhouse Productions and HALLOWEEN!
Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions is a two-time Academy Award-nominee responsible for some of this decade’s most successful and revered genre films including GET OUT and SPLIT along with enduring franchises like THE PURGE and INSIDIOUS.
Jason’s strategy behind Blumhouse Productions is to give promising filmmakers creative freedom to produce micro-budgeted genre films and its proven incredibly lucrative, with a combined output grossing more than $3.6 billion globally.
Blumhouse’s latest release is HALLOWEEN, a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher of the same name and Cult of Monster were fortunate to catch up with Jason to discuss the film, Jamie Lee Curtis and Blumhouse’s filmmaking strategy.
First off, congratulations on producing not only a faithful but brilliant follow-up to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. I’m a huge fan of the franchise and this is hands down the best sequel.
Well thank you, I really appreciate that. We worked very hard on it and I’m very proud of it, so thank you very much.
My pleasure. Now given that Halloween’s had numerous sequels, a reboot and even a sequel to that reboot – what led to the decision that the time was ripe for a new HALLOWEEN?
We at Blumhouse have a very unique approach and I was really intrigued if we could apply that approach to a franchise that’s kind of…there have been many sequels. You know I love the first movie, I love our movie too, but my favourite move of the franchise is clearly John Carpenter’s. Ours is my second favourite. And what I wanted to do was see if we could do that, see if we could actually use our system to make a quality HALLOWEEN. And you know I’m proud of the movie that David [Gordon Green] and Danny [McBride] made because I really think they’ve succeeded in again making one that’s again not as good as the first but better than the middle nine.
Absolutely. Was the idea always to make a sequel and not another reboot of the franchise?
That was really David and Danny’s idea. In the beginning I don’t think I appreciated the idea enough, I mean I thought it was good but I just didn’t…the idea really made everything fall into place. It got John Carpenter involved, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the whole thing started rolling once David and Danny came up with the concept of the movie.
David Gordon Green is without a doubt a multifaceted filmmaker though he’s worked primarily in drama and comedy. What led you to approach him to work on HALLOWEEN?
Well one of the unique things we do as a company, and one of my beliefs, is that you don’t need a good horror director to make a good horror movie. You just need a good director. Jordan Peele would be the best example of that. He’s certainly never done horror before he did GET OUT. I’ve always admired David’s work since his first movie GEORGE WASHINGTON, and I’ve always been trying to get him to do something. And he finally sparked when I brought up the idea of doing HALLOWEEN.
As I understand he’s been a massive fan of the franchise and particularly Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN all his life.
That’s right, exactly.
And what was your reaction when David and Danny said they wanted to do away with the franchise’s mythology post the original HALLOWEEN and do a direct sequel?
Well I think we were open to it. I think we were looking for a new way to do a HALLOWEEN movie, and it really resonated with me and everybody involved. So we embraced their notion from the start.
And you did mention earlier John Carpenter’s involvement: he’s an executive producer on the film and composed the score. How early on was John involved in the project?
Well I made it very clear we weren’t going to do the movie unless John said yes. One of the other things I believe is that you can’t make a good sequel of a movie without somehow involving the creator of the first movie. So I didn’t want to do it without John and when I went to John he was skeptical at first. I think what really turned him around is I said: ‘Look, we’re not going to do it without you, but they’re going to make a movie without either one of us, we can join together and try to make it good or we can complain about it from the side lines’. And I think that pushed him over the edge to agree to do it.
One thing I took away from watching the film is that it’s arguably more Laurie Strode’s story than Michael’s. And Jamie Lee Curtis in my opinion, gives a career best performance. It’s incredible to see her not only as a kickass heroine in the film but also as this damaged though not broken – strong female character that’s endured a lifetime of trauma following the events of the 1978 film. How did you go about getting Jamie Lee on board to do another HALLOWEEN film?
I set a meeting with her and David. David was very persuasive. She definitely sparked to the idea of a female empowerment movie – three-generations of women overcoming the most evil man in cinema history. She sparked to the idea of doing a movie about the effects forty-years later of a traumatic event as opposed to doing most horror movies where they’re just about the actual trauma. I think the thing that helped us most is that her godson is Jake Gyllenhaal, and Jake had just done STRONGER with David Gordon Green, and Jake said to her what a terrific director David was. I think it was a combination of all those things that finally got us there.
This new HALLOWEEN, successfully compounds the terror of the original HALLOWEEN by adding some more on-screen, explicit kills while maintaining that level of suspense from the original. Do you think modern audiences require more on-screen carnage to be scared, and in particular with an established franchise?
Well I think that HALLOWEEN – there’s a promise of seeing people lose their life onscreen for sure. And yeah, I think people are more accustomed to seeing that. So we have a higher body count in our movie. I think HALLOWEEN promises something and you kind of have to deliver that.
That makes perfect sense. The Blumhouse model is renowned for producing high-quality genre films but on a micro-budget. Was HALLOWEEN an exception to that rule? As it genuinely looks like a blockbuster.
Well thank you. No it really wasn’t – our rule of thumb is that originals are $5 million and sequels are $10. So THE PURGE sequels, INSIDIOUS sequels, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequels are all around 10. And that’s what HALLOWEEN was about $10 million bucks, so by Hollywood standards, very low budget.
Terrific. And just a side note, I’ve been watching THE PURGE television series and it’s fantastic. To capture the essence and sheer scale of the films and work that into a television series, it’s incredible.
Well thank you, I like it too, I’m very proud of it. We worked very hard on that.
I’m hanging to watching the rest of it – as it airs weekly here in Australia on Amazon Prime. Now my last question – given Blumhouse’s history of creating original franchises, is it too early to say we might return to Haddonfield once more?
Definitely not too early! I really hope to. There’s nothing official yet, but I certainly would like that and I definitely have ideas about where we can go and I’d love to go there.
Well thank you so much for your time Jason its sincerely appreciated. Huge fan of the franchise and Blumhouse productions. Its been a pleasure to talk to you.
Awesome, thank you too I appreciate it!
HALLOWEEN is now showing in cinemas across Australia.
Interviews conducted by Jarret Gahan.