Ahead of the release of The Craft: Legacy, a standalone sequel to the 1996 cult classic, STARBURST spoke with legendary producer and Blumhouse Productions founder Jason Blum about this latest feature, his company’s rich body of work, and his thoughts on the changing horror and cinematic landscapes.
STARBURST: Why was now the right time for a sequel to The Craft?
Jason Blum: The Craft is about women having power, and I think what a lot of people are talking about right now is the changing role of women in society and the role of the #MeToo movement, and empowering women and hearing women's voices getting louder. And I think to a certain degree, The Craft is about all of those things.
What would you say to fans who might have reservations about this sequel?
You know, every time you reinvent an existing movie, you know not everyone's going to be happy. You always have people who’ll be mad it got remade at all, and then there are people who might not like our version… you walk a really fine line because you want to call back to the first movie so that those who liked the original are not disappointed, but you don’t want to copy it either, because then why bother doing it? Hopefully most people will feel good about it, but I promise it’s never unanimous. Some people will be upset no matter what.
Legacy is very much in conversation with current feminist discourse, as you’ve said. As someone who with a lot of leverage in the film industry, do you feel you have a responsibility to drive diversity in which projects you produce?
Yeah, I feel that we're responsible. We try and do things that are responsible, and I'm attracted to projects that have something to say. We have a TV show airing right now called The Good Lord Bird about John Brown and slavery in the United States. I do feel like I have a responsibility not to be reckless about the stories that we tell.
You’ve recently been picking up a lot more of pre-existing intellectual properties, such as The Invisible Man or Halloween. Why is that?
It’s always been kind of 50/50 between originals and existing IPs. I don’t have a hard and fast rule, but I like to try and do both. With existing IP, the marketing is easier because people know it, but you also run the risk of pissing off a lot of fans. So there’s a blessing and a curse in doing pre-existing IP. And then with originals, you don’t have fans to put off but it’s much harder to get the audience to come and see it. I really love telling stories and how I tell them, whether it’s existing IP or originals, TV or movies, has never been as important to me as the ability to tell them.
Speaking of, Blumhouse has been doing a lot more TV recently and hiring first-time directors, which is something you’ve previously avoided doing.
Yeah, I don't think it's fair to young people to stick them behind the camera of a wide-release theatrical movie, which is most of our horror movies. A first-time director is still learning, and they might make mistakes or they might just get unlucky, and if you release a movie and it doesn’t make any money, it then makes it really tough for that person to work again when it’s their first movie. You don't have those metrics on streaming movies or TV, you're not subject to opening weekend stats. It's more forgiving, you can take more risks in the storytelling. And so on our streaming movies, I think we work with a disproportionate number of young, first-time directors because I think that's a much better place to start.
There’s currently a real saturation of the entertainment landscape when it comes to genre and horror movies. Does that worry you or do you welcome the fact that they’re getting more recognition, particularly from critical circles?
The influx of horror doesn't really bother me. Good horror rises to the top, and there's a lot of bad horror that people don't pay attention to. And it's cyclical; there'll be a few hit horror movies, then all the companies make horror movies, then a lot of them don't work, and the pendulum swings back. I try to stay focused on what we’re doing. And then for the critics, I think Jordan [Peele] really opened doors for horror movies as a genre to be appreciated and accepted. Personally, I kind of liked when horror movies were more in the ghetto, but ultimately it’s a good thing.
Even before Covid-19, we were seeing cinema attendance slowly decrease. Does that long-term trend concern you?
I don’t know if it's a concern, but it's going to change. I think as a result, theatrical windows are going to get shorter and more movies will play in cinemas for shorter amounts of time. I'm not concerned about that. It's just going to be different than how it was.
So, what do you expect the film industry will look like in a decade’s time?
I think that instead of four or five movies, there'll be 1000 or 1500 movies released in theatres, I think you'll go to the movie theatre on your corner with ten screens that will have ten different movies playing. They'll play in the theatre for two weeks, and then you'll have the opportunity to see them at home. There’ll still be these big tentpole movies that play in the theatre for a longer time, but there'll be fewer of them. And I ultimately think that may make movies more relevant again; I think TV and serialised storytelling has kind of taken the limelight from movies.
Lastly, The Craft: Legacy releases in time for Halloween. What are some three other movies you recommend people watch to celebrate?
They should get ready to watch Freaky [releasing November 13th]. They should watch Happy Death Day. They should watch Split if they haven’t seen it, it’s a terrific film. And a lot of younger people haven’t seen Sinister because it was a while ago, so they should see that as well.