Universal Pictures has nixed plans to release Joe Carnahan’s comedy-thriller Stretch on its scheduled March 21st release date. Although it made our “Most Anticipated” list for the first quarter of 2014, no replacement date is currently set up. It’s a bit of an odd move, especially for the normally successful production banner of Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions, which specializes in turning low-budget pictures into big box office returns. Universal allowed Blum to shop the picture to other distributors, but when a deal couldn’t be reached, the rights reverted back to the studio, which is now “exploring creative options” for release. Hit the jump for more.
[Update: We've updated the article with comments on the situation from Carnahan himself.]
Universal had a sleeper hit with the horror film The Purge earlier this summer, so naturally they need to get a sequel out as quickly as possible. The studio has sent out a press release announcing “the next chapter of The Purge” will be released on June 20, 2014. For those who didn’t see the first film, it’s a speculative thriller where all crimes are legal during the annual “Purge”, which preserves peace and prosperity for the other 364 days of the year. During the Purge, a well-to-do family is attacked when they rescue an injured citizen from a violent mob. Writer/director/producer James DeMonaco will produce alongside other returning producers Jason Blum, Sébastien K. Lemercier, Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form. It’s a fairly quick turnaround, so perhaps the sequel will stick to the small scale of the original.
The Purge sequel will share the weekend with the comedy Think Like a Man Too and Clint Eastwood‘s screen adaptation of the musical Jersey Boys.
In this job, I get to do some really cool things, and one such cool thing happened when I was recently given the opportunity to tour the new Insidious: Into the Further maze for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, taking place on select nights from September 20th through November 2nd, prior to its debut. Walking through each scene, accompanied by the film’s producer Jason Blum and HHN creative director John Murdy, it was clear how much time and thought was put into every little detail.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, Jason Blum and John Murdy talked about how this particular maze came about, what it’s like to see a movie brought to life in this way, how long they spend planning out the mazes, figuring out which scenes to include, that they’ll have about 40 performers in the maze, that they’re already thinking about the next movie they can collaborate on a maze for, and whether they’re tempted to get dressed up and scare people themselves. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Fresh off the box office success of Insidious: Chapter Two and the announcement of a third Insidious pic, producer Jason Blum’s horror shingle Blumhouse Productions has set its sights on a new franchise. Deadline reports that Aaron Eckhart will lead Incarnate with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island director Brad Peyton set to helm. Penned by Ronnie Christensen (Passengers), the film follows “an unconventional exorcist who can tap into the subconscious of the possessed.” Said exorcist meets his match when he confronts his next case, a 9-year-old boy possessed by a demon from his past. Filming is poised to begin next month.
Blumhouse has made a habit of churning out low budget, high profit horror pics over the past few years, starting off with the Paranormal Activity franchise and continuing with other hits like Sinister and The Purge. Peyton had been attached to helm an adaptation of the comics character Lobo for Warner Bros., but it’s unclear if he’s still involved with that project. No matter, Incarnate certainly sounds like a promising premise to tackle in the meantime.
Having played in limited release since August, director James Ponsoldt‘s high school drama The Spectacular Now finally made its way to my Midwestern neck of the woods this weekend and I jumped at the chance to see it last night. Although it elicited fewer laughs than I expected, the film levied an emotional punch that I’m still shaking off today. As has been noted by many before me, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley‘s performances are fantastic and their chemistry is palpable from beginning to end (one scene in which Woodley’s Aimee describes her dreams of a perfect marriage stands out to me in particular). Moreover, Kyle Chandler‘s turn as Teller’s estranged father is as powerful as it is short-lived. If you have the slightest interest in the coming-of-age genre, and this film is playing nearby, take the time to see it. Few in the genre capture the nuance of high-school love and personal demons as honestly as The Spectacular Now.
With that ringing endorsement behind me, this week’s Top 5 includes a slew of Insidious: Chapter 2 interviews, Adam keeping his finger on the pulse of awards season with his recurring Oscar Beat feature, news that Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling are teaming up for a new film series inspired by Harry Potter, a new installment of Cinemath that takes a look at the history of movie ticket prices, and a recap of our robust TIFF 2013 coverage. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a brief recap and link to each of the above can be found after the jump.
Opening in theaters this weekend is James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2. The follow-up to the 2011 surprise hit picks up exactly where the first left off with the Lambert family thrust into a world of psychics, demons and ghosts. Insidious put an entirely original spin on the haunted house subgenre with its unique third act, and Chapter 2 digs deeper into that universe traveling further into the, well, Further and answering any last lingering fan questions. Insidious: Chapter 2 stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, and Ty Simpkins.
A few weeks ago at a Los Angeles press day I got to sit down with producer Jason Blum for an exclusive interview. He talked about bringing back the entire cast from the first film, the creative freedom of low-budget films, going where he’s needed as a producer, attracting name actors to small genre projects, and more. He also gave updates on Stretch and Mockingbird. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
The Purge rode an intriguing hook—for a twelve-hour period every year, all crime is legal—to gross $36.4 million at the box office this weekend on a lean $3 million budget. Given the high return on investment and repeatable premise, you know what comes next: Universal and producer Jason Blum have announced development on The Purge 2.
The Purge is essentially a home invasion thriller that centers on a family played by Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, and Adelaide Kane. I imagine the studio and Blum will explore the greater Purge universe to find a new story, so there is no guarantee the cast will return. At this stage, it is also not clear if writer/director James De Monaco will return. See Blum’s Twitter announcement after the jump.
Between the record-breaking grosses of May and next week’s Man of Steel launch, this was supposed to be a quiet weekend at the box office. Universal’s The Purge had other plans. The low-budget horror film took first place and more than doubled its pre-release projections with an estimated $36.4 million from 2,536 locations. The box office bonanza did not extend to The Internship, however. The comedy opened in fourth with an estimated $18.1 million – half of what The Purge realized in 800 fewer theatres.
|| The Purge
|| Fast & Furious 6
|| Now You See Me
|| The Internship
|| Star Trek Into Darkness
|| After Earth
|| The Hangover III
|| Iron Man 3
|| The Great Gatsby
For all of the uneasiness I felt watching The Internship play as a not so subtle promo for Google’s portfolio of services (what in the hell is Google Wallet?), the movie painted a dichotomy that I found interesting. While far from perfect, I thought the film did a nice job of contrasting the eternal optimism of a couple Gen X’ers with the often harsh practicality and cynicism I see embedded in myself and many of my fellow Millennials. Although this is hardly the platform from which to dive into a generational debate, The Internship at least introduced the idea that belonging to a generation that has had the wealth of the world’s knowledge at their fingertips for a good portion of their lives (not to mention video games and the lack of a military draft) faces a whole new set of unique challenges and insecurities. At the same time, it also sent an oft-overlooked truth that we (Millennials) don’t know it all, haven’t seen it all, and the “Culture of Meh” that we often embrace is cynical bullshit that I can only hope life experience will help pull us out of.
In addition to my “meh” soapbox, this week’s Top 5 offers The Internship interviews with Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and Rose Byrne, the first trailer and a set visit recap for director James Wan‘s Insidious: Chapter 2, a truckload of set images from X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Purge interviews with Ethan Hawke and more, and a look at the WGA’s list of the “101 Best Written TV Series of All Time”. Check out a brief recap and link to each after the jump.
From Blumhouse Productions, the horror thriller The Purge illustrates the government’s response to an America overrun by escalating crime and overcrowded prisons. For a 12-hour period, once a year, any and all criminal activity, including murder, becomes legal. And on this one particular night, James (Ethan Hawke) and Mary Sandin (Lena Headey), and their two children, will learn just how vicious the outside world can be.
During a press conference at the film’s press day, producer Jason Blum talked about why putting families in danger makes for good suspense and horror films, what made Ethan Hawke the right guy for this project, how different audience interpretation of the film will be, his reaction when he first read the script, deciding on the look of the masks, and the benefits of working on a limited budget. He also talked about why he wanted to get involved with the remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, and how important it is to him to find a real reason why someone is actually shooting the footage, in one of his found footage films. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
One of the things that most impresses me about Blumhouse Productions it’s the smart way they’re making movies. Through clever budgeting and location Blumhouse consistently manages to secure impressive talent for their projects, both in front and behind the camera, endowing their films with a credibility and quality that is unusual on the low-budget horror circuit. Insidious was one of the films that helped set this trend for the company, and one of the most exciting things about the sequel is that they’re bringing back the whole bunch for round two. Back in March I got to visit the set of Insidious: Chapter 2 and see firsthand the chemistry between the cast and crew, their enthusiasm to be working together again, and how thoughtful they all are about the work they’re doing.
During a break in filming, I sat down with a few other journalists for a press conference with Director James Wan, Writer Leigh Whannell, Producer Jason Blum, and actors Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey. They talked about the higher stakes of the sequel, what makes Chapter 2 unique, exploring the world established in the first film, what we’ll see in the Further, shooting at Linda Vista Hospital, and a lot more. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
From Jason Blum (Insidious, Sinister) and Josh Gates (Destination Truth), Stranded is the new Syfy reality series that uses the same stripped-down first-person method from Paranormal Activity to document an unconventional and terrifying paranormal and psychological experiment, in which participants are stranded at haunted location for a week and must record the entire experience themselves. Each of the six hour-long episodes features the self-recorded footage of a group of everyday paranormal enthusiasts, combined with strategically-placed security cameras at each location.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, executive producer Jason Blum talked about how Stranded came about and why he thought it was a great fit for what he’d already done on the narrative side, the process of selecting the individuals and locations for the show, how he got some fun ideas for future movies while they were scouting possible haunted locations, and where his love for genre and horror started. He also talked about how he expects Paranormal Activity 5 to go into production in middle to late Spring for an October release, why he and the film’s partners thought there was further story to be explored for Insidious 2, what made him want to collaborate with Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee) on a modern-day remake of The Town that Dreaded Sundown, that he hopes Area 51 will be released soon, and that he’s not currently juggling quite as many projects as IMDB would lead you to believe. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
The new Syfy reality series Stranded, which debuted on February 27th, documents an unconventional and often terrifying paranormal and psychological experiment. Each episode features the self-recorded footage of a diverse group of every-day paranormal enthusiasts who are left stranded at one of the most haunted locations in America and record the entire experience with hand-held cameras creating an unscripted first-hand account of their stay.
While we will share what executive producer Jason Blum had to say about the new show next week, we did want to share his updates on some of his current and upcoming feature films. Blum told Collider that he expect Paranormal Activity 5 to go into production in middle to late Spring for an October release and that he hopes that franchise will remain ongoing, why he and the film’s partners thought there was further story to be explored for Insidious 2, what made him want to collaborate with Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee) on a modern-day remake of The Town that Dreaded Sundown and why he thinks that will appeal to audiences, that he hopes Area 51 will be released soon, and that he’s not currently juggling quite as many projects as IMDB would lead you to believe. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions is following the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought when it comes to micro-budget horror franchises. Having seen great success with the Paranormal Activity series and with the second installment of Insidious due out later this summer, a sequel to last fall’s Sinister is now in the works. Reportedly made for $3 million and bringing in around $80 million worldwide, the money is clearly behind forging ahead with establishing a third franchise. Fans of the original will be happy to hear that the creative talent behind the camera will reunite for the sequel. Hit the jump for more.
MGM’s remake of the 1976 horror film The Town That Dreaded Sundown is moving forward, and some major players have boarded the project behind the scenes. We first learned that the remake was in development this past November, but now Heat Vision reports that Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is teaming up with producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity franchise, Insidious) on the project. The original slasher film was based on five unsolved, grisly murders in 1946 Texarkana and became a cult hit.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is in talks to direct the horror remake, which has a script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie remake, Glee). Gomez-Rejon has previously helmed a number of episodes of Glee and American Horror Story: Asylum, and is also a prolific second-unit director who most recently worked on Argo. This new Sundown is said to keep the original film’s cinema verite style with an added procedural element akin to Zodiac. Murphy also revealed that they’re doing a “weird meta thing with it,” whatever that means. Production is gearing up to begin this spring. Hit the jump to watch the trailer for the original film.