This story is part of a series done in partnership between Blumhouse.com and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION.
Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, has been an integral part of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise from the very beginning, when he guided Oren Peli’s low-budget found footage horror feature from obscurity to worldwide theatrical distribution. The end result is one of the most successful independent films of all time, spawning multiple sequels (all box-office hits) and a spinoff feature (THE MARKED ONES).
The franchise as we know it is slated to conclude with today’s nationwide release of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION, and in the run-up to this long-awaited event, we had a candid chat with Jason about the evolution of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, the key to its success, and what we can expect from the final chapter.
BLUMHOUSE.COM: How did you become involved with the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY film?
JASON BLUM: I was sent a copy of the movie by Oren Peli’s agents as a directing sample, and immediately fell in love with it. The film was supposed to go straight to DVD and VOD, but I just felt it would be such an amazing theatrical experience that I convinced Oren to let me try and get it a wide theatrical release. We spent some time doing reshoots, and then 3 years trying to get a studio to release it. Plus, I had previously passed on THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, so I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
BH: Can you discuss a little bit about the original film’s marketing campaign and the choice to use shots of the audience over shots of the film in commercials? Many critics have said that innovated campaign is what secured the film’s success.
JB: I am a big believer that a film’s success is 50% the film and 50% the marketing. The whole idea behind the release was to harness a big studio’s marketing machine behind a little movie, and Paramount was amazing. Those commercials and the “Demand It” campaign, where people got to ask for the movie to play in their city, really made the movie an organic hit. It made the fans such a big part of it.
BH: When you first saw the orginal film, did you realize you had a huge hit on your hands? What were your first reactions to the film?
JB: I really believed in it, but never dreamed it would be this big. The truth is, anybody who saw the movie with an audience would have easily seen its potential.
BH: After the success of the first film and the decision to make a second film, how did you decide where to take the series? There must have been many options since the first film does not explain a great deal about the “presence” or background. How did you approach it as a franchise?
JB: Everyone thought it was going to be impossible to make a sequel, but I’m a big believer that if you take each movie on its own, you have far better luck. Now, I’m saying that because we are making little scary movies. If I was doing a big budget film, I think you have to map out the entire franchise from day one.
BH: Why do you think the “found footage” style of filmmaking worked so well in this instance? Many horror fans dislike the “found” aesthetic, but for the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films and many other movies, this aesthetic seems to make the movie more successful.
JB: The challenge with found footage is that it can become a crutch. I think movies should always be shot traditionally unless found footage is really the only way to tell that story. With PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, it was such an important part of the storytelling process that it didn’t feel forced.
BH: Which of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films is your favorite?
JB: The third one.
BH: What can you tell us about the upcoming PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION? What makes this film different from the others?
JB: We spent the entire franchise asking questions, and now we are actually going to answer them. What I loved about this one was we went into it saying “This is the end of the franchise,” as opposed to waiting to see how it performed. So the story fits in with the idea that it’s the end.
BH: Is this the final chapter of the PA franchise, or will there possibly be more for fans to look forward to?
JB: It is definitely the end of this series and these characters. Just so you don’t think I am a liar in 10 years, if a filmmaker comes along with an amazing idea to reboot it in a few years we will definitely listen… but in terms of this series, we are done!