Ever since the revelation at this year’s Comic-Con that Adam Wingard’s latest feature film (previously titled THE WOODS) is an official sequel to 1999’s THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (simply titled BLAIR WITCH), fans’ attention has returned to this landmark of found-footage horror. After its shocking premiere at Sundance, and a wildly successful theatrical release the following year, the micro-budget mockumentary radically shifted the path of independent cinema and inspired an entire generation of horror filmmakers.
Fans of the film — and of horror history in general — are already familiar with the largely improvised, gonzo approach of directors Eduardo Sanchéz & Daniel Myrick, who turned over camera operation and sound recording duties to their three principal actors, guiding their actions mostly from a distance as they trekked through Maryland’s Seneca Creek State Park for a week in cold, rainy and disorienting conditions.
But not all BLAIR devotees know exactly how much film and video the trio shot, both in the woods and nearby towns — the total has been estimated at around 19 hours. It took Sanchéz & Myrick roughly eight months to pare that mountain of footage down to the 81-minute theatrical cut released by Artisan (now Lionsgate) in July of 1999.
So what happened to the other 17½ hours? As it turns out, that footage still exists… and some of it might be making its way into a much lengthier edit of the film.
According to a new interview on the Found Footage Files podcast and FoundFootageCritic.com, Sanchéz would be very interested in making many hours of unseen material available to the public — preferably as part of an epic “extended cut.”
“In a couple of weeks I could probably take the original movie and edit a longer version,” Sanchéz told Found Footage Files. “I know the fans are like, ‘everybody wants to see it’… it would be cool to do, honestly. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that if Lionsgate Films hired me. I think it would a lot of fun.”
Other filmmakers have chimed in with enthusiastic support, including PARANORMAL ACTIVITY creator Oren Peli: “As a long-time fan of found-footage movies and BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, I would love to see an extended version released,” the filmmaker said.
In response, with the director’s blessing and the backing of the massive BLAIR WITCH fan community, a “Release the Footage” petition has been launched, with the intent of garnering Lionsgate’s attention on this matter.
If Wingard’s heavily-hyped sequel scores big at the box office this month, that should provide even more incentive for the studio to dig into their vaults and make this a reality… but if you really want to help make this happen, add your name to this petition ASAP!