The other day I got an e-mail saying that producer Jason Blum was available for interviews because the Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension trailer was coming. I’m always happy to talk to Blum about anything and everything, but it did seem a bit strange that he’d be doing press just for a trailer release. However, mere minutes into our conversation, I learned why he made a point to talk about the movie well ahead of its release – the Paranormal Activity franchise is coming to an end with The Ghost Dimension.
As a longtime fan of the series, I’m certainly a bit bummed that this is it, but on the bright side, Blum and co. are using the opportunity to make sure that the PA franchise goes out with a bang. Check out what he told me about answering most of the questions raised in the first four films, what we can expect from Toby, making a found footage movie in 3D and more in the interview below. Click here to catch the first Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension trailer. The film is due in theaters on October 23rd.
I’m so thrilled to finally see some of Paranormal Activity 5 after I’ve been bugging you about it for two years!
JASON BLUM: I know! Well, I told you it was happening. No one believes me.
First off, can you tell me about the status of the film right now? Are you guys finished or are you still in post?
BLUM: We’re definitely still in post, but I believe we’re actually finished shooting, which is a miracle. We’re way ahead of the game compared to the other movies. We’re still in post, but we’re done shooting.
Now going back to the beginning, this one was obviously delayed quite a bit. Can you tell me about forgoing the one-film-a-year precedent you set? Was it a difficult decision?
BLUM: The big news on this movie is that we decided it was gonna be the last Paranormal Activity and once we decided that, all these things fell into place – we’re gonna show Toby, we’re gonna make it 3D, we’re gonna not make it in a year. Once we decided that, having had to make a movie in 12 months for five years in a row, it took a ton of pressure off the process and off the creative and allowed us to make something that I think is really special and I’m very proud of. So that was the big decision to say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do this and it’s gonna be the last one.’ And to me, that was a very unusual decision. Paramount was a big advocate of that and it was great to be working with a studio who was comfortable with that. 99 times out of 100, the studio would say, ‘Well, it’ll be the last one if it doesn’t make money.’ It’s not like they had to say yes to us. They were part of the decision making process to say, ‘Hey, let’s pick this up where we can, call it the end, if you reboot it in some time when we’re all long gone, fine, but let’s not carry this thing and drive it into the ground. Let’s call this the last one.’ And I’m really happy about that and it gave us a lot more room to play within the storytelling and also the time frame.
So can we expect to see this movie answer all of the burning questions that the first four films brought up?
BLUM: Yes, yes! No more teasing, no more teasing. So I think it’ll answer 99% of the questions fans have had along the way. That was fun too, to write a movie and to finally not have to hold anything back but just answer everything. Some of the answers we didn’t know, we had to make up, but at least they’re answers.
Do you guys have some sort Toby/evil entity bible somewhere, something that dictates what he can and can’t do?
BLUM: We have about 65 of those. [Laughs] Yes, we have many, many, many. I don’t mean copies, I mean different versions. But yeah, we have a rulebook. The rulebook has changed and altered, but yeah, there is a rulebook.
Can you tell me about working with Gregory [Plotkin] on this? You worked with him on almost all of the Paranormal Activity movies, but was there anything he did in Ghost Dimension that surprised you?
BLUM: Just like you said, he’s worked on 2, 3, 4, and The Marked Ones, so he was an obvious choice for the director. He really knows the franchise as well as anybody. It’s hard for an editor to have that much say during shooting so it was great to see him finally realize his vision instead of his vision through somebody else. So that was just really, really fun all the way through. He’s really got a chance to be the lead creative voice behind a big movie and that was great to see.
You just brought up The Marked Ones. Does the end of the franchise apply to the spinoff series as well or is it just the main series that’s coming to an end?
BLUM: That’s a good question. As far as I know, yes. As I said it actually I was thinking like, ‘Huh,’ but I believe it’s the end of all Paranormals and Paranormal cousins for a good long time. I think that applies to The Marked Ones too, but don’t quote me on that.
So now let’s talk about what I saw in that trailer. At the very beginning, we see a young Katie and Kristi, but can you tell me who’s talking to them? Is that Lois in that opening scene?
BLUM: I can tell you, but I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that. I think I have to take the fifth on that. [Laughs]
Understandable. You might have to do it with this question too, but the characters mention that they find the box of VHS tapes in the old homeowner’s basement so does that mean Lois’s house is the primary location?
BLUM: Yeah, I’m definitely taking the fifth on that one too. [Laughs]
[Laughs] All good! Thought I’d try! At one point in the trailer a character says, ‘We’ve gotta find more tapes,’ when most would be thinking, ‘We’ve got to get out of here.’ Is there a point in the movie when you justify the need to stay in that house?
BLUM: There definitely is. We always justify them staying. That is not where the issue is. The issue is always, do people buy the justification? But we always justify it. Some people are like, ‘I don’t believe it,’ but we do justify it and this movie is no exception to that.
How about adding to the visuals? The first movie has the one camera, the second has the security camera footage, the third has fun things like the fan shot, and the fourth has the tracking dots. Is there a hot new thing of sorts that we can expect from this one?
BLUM: Yes, yes, 3D! I mean, hot new. I mean, my god! It’s unheard of. We’re doing a found footage movie in 3D. Now we explain that too, I’m not gonna tell you how on the phone, but we explain that, too. But I believe that’s a first. There’s never been a found footage movie in 3D before.
Huh. I’m surprised that’s never crossed my mind.
BLUM: Well, there you go!
Was the 3D done entirely in post?
BLUM: No, no, no. The 3D is not an idea that came up after the movie was done. The 3D is built into the story. It’s hard to explain without giving it away, but the 3D was shot in 3D, let’s put it that way.
We get to meet a bunch of the main characters in the trailer, but are there any additional details you can share about them so we know who these people are and what they’re about?
BLUM: Nothing really I’m comfortable sharing more than the trailer. We actually put a lot in the trailer, so obviously what’s in the trailer, and then beyond that, really the fact that it’s the last one and as a result of it being the last one, we’re gonna show you Toby and show you what his motivations are and really show the behind-the-scenes of all of the preceding movies.
Was it challenging to sum up this story in a way where all the new information we’ll get in 5 will hold true when re-watching 1, 2, 3 and 4?
BLUM: We went deep, we went deep. We were really careful about that. Ashley Brucks who is an executive at Paramount, at this point I would say of everyone she probably has the mythology of all the movies – she was involved from the first movie, she’s been there on every single movie and she has the story of Paranormal engraved in her mind and in seven bibles on her desk. She is the keeper of the Paranormal story and when we’re doing story meetings and someone has an idea, if it doesn’t fit with one of the movies, she’s the first one to raise her hand and say, ‘You can’t do that because of the second movie.’ She’s got a great memory and a knowledge of the movies, about 400x better than me. She’s the one who keeps us on it so that we don’t contradict ourselves. I think she’s done a great job. She’s done a lot on the movies besides that, but she’s done a great job doing that.
Any chance you’re bringing something to Comic-Con this year?
BLUM: I can tell you that we definitely are bringing something to Comic-Con this year, but I can’t tell you what. [Laughs]
I wanted to ask you about the reaction to the Jem and the Holograms trailer. I have no connection to the source material so I watched the trailer and enjoyed it quite a bit, but then I go and look at my social media feeds and people are just freaking out about it.
BLUM: They’re going crazy!
Does a reaction like that worry you at all or do you have to just stick to your guns and push forward with what you made?
BLUM: Well, the answer to both of those is yes. It makes me worried for sure, but the movie’s done so we’re not changing the movie. The reason I’m not as worried is because I think it’s people reacting off the trailer. A trailer is 2 minutes, a movie is 90, so you can’t show the whole movie in 2 minutes, so a lot of the things that people feel are not in the trailer and were in Jem and the Holograms are actually in the movie, so the only thing I hope is that the people who are passionate Jem fans, which I really understand, just put their judgment until they see the movie. If they see the movie and feel the same way then let us have it, but I just have to say, watch the movie first and then judge. Don’t judge a book by its cover, I guess I’m saying.
That’s very fair! As someone who knows nothing about the original show, I’m looking forward to it.
BLUM: Oh, you’re gonna like it. It’s a great movie.
Another one I’ve been bugging you about quite a bit is The Purge 3. I don’t think I’ve heard much on it since I last spoke to you. Are you shooting that soon?
BLUM: We are shooting soon. We have a script and we’re gonna shoot soon. And we think James [DeMonaco] is gonna come back and it’s gonna be awesome. What can I tell you? The script is great, totally different, it’s great.
I will say though, the last news I heard about it is that it isn’t going to be about the first Purge, and I was a little disappointed. I’m dying to see the first Purge!
BLUM: Well, we have time. The Purge is not Paranormal Activity. Hopefully there will be more than three, I hope.
I was a bit bummed when you said that Paranormal is coming to an end, but I guess if it opens the door to more Purge and maybe more Sinister movies, I’m going to be okay with it.
BLUM: That’s good. I don’t wanna grind these movies into the ground. I have a good feeling about Paranormal, and with Sinister, The Purge and Ouija, there’s a time for more and then there’s not. I think that applies to Sinister and Insidious, all those movies, too. At some point, you’ve gotta give them a wrap.
That’s fair. I actually almost forgot about Ouija! Is that going to be a straight sequel to the original?
BLUM: We have the script, we’re gonna shoot that soon too but I cannot comment at all on what that will be. Not quite yet, not quite yet.