I recently read that Jordan Peele's Get Out, produced by Blumhouse Productions, has become the first movie with a black writer-directorial debut to gross over $100 million. Get Out currently holds a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 182 reviews and has grossed over $110,000,000 from a $4,500,000 production budget, so it's fair to say it's been a bit of a success. This also means that if you include Split, Blumhouse has grossed $385,742,754 (so far) from a combined production budget of $13,500,000. So, what is the secret to Blumhouse Productions' success?
Blumhouse is known for producing low-budget #horror films that almost always make huge profits. Jason Blum's strategy is probably inspired by his past experiences with production, with him having passed on the opportunity to purchase The Blair Witch Project at Sundance 1999, and would go on to be one of the most profitable films of all time.
Fast forward to 2017 — if it was just in terms of financial success then, yes, this model would probably be the only way movies are made today. However, the company have a long list of critical failures (a quick look at Jason Blum's Rotten Tomatoes page will prove this) and have been criticized for the over-reliance on jump scares in their horror movies.
The video highlights the fact that a significant amount of Blumhouse's horror movies end with a nonsensical jump scare that undoes all of the hard work that went into the rest of the film. Though I haven't seen all the films they've released recently, this trend does appear to be disappearing based on those that I have seen. It could also be argued that these films are only made to turn a profit, since they have such small production budgets and open in thousands of theaters worldwide. However, I don't think this is the case, with it seeming to be more of a platform for movies to be made risk-free, sometimes producing great movies like Get Out and The Gift.
Despite this, what they're doing well is giving first-time filmmakers, such as Jordan Peele and Joel Edgerton, the freedom of an independent production while still getting widespread release thanks to distribution by companies such as Paramount and Universal. At 2014's SXSW, Blum said that he tells directors: "I can’t promise you a hit, but I can promise you the movie is going to be yours."
Blumhouse Gives Upcoming Directors A Shot With A Widespread Release.
M. Night Shyamalan also appears to be having a career resurgence under the company, with him seemingly thriving in the low-budget work environment that initially made him a success. #JamesWan is another director who, after having worked on 2004's Saw, became victim to studio inference in the years that followed. He has had a spree of well received and financially successful films under Blumhouse such as Insidious and The Conjuring.
This is refreshing to hear considering the seemingly never-ending reports that come out about studio interference (notable examples include Fantastic Four and any recent DC comic film) in that filmmakers can make the films they want to without the studio having to worry about the financial risks of doing so. This has resulted in some of my favorite horror films in recent years: Split, Get Out, The Gift, Sinister.
If the company continues in the same way, we could see more filmmakers make impressive debuts with Blumhouse, providing new and original content. In fact, Oscar-winning Damien Chazelle even made his fantastic breakthrough feature under Blumhouse with Whiplash.
Get Out will probably go on to be one of the most impressive things to come out of Hollywood in 2017, not just because of its social commentary, historic box office performance, Daniel Kaluuya's terrific performance, but also because it's actually a really good movie.
What is your favorite Blumhouse film?