Producer Jason Blum has taken the film world by storm. As the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, he’s one of the key forces behind horror movies such as the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, “Sinister,” and this year’s surprise hit “The Purge.” In short, this guy certainly knows what it takes to make a hefty profit. His model for studio filmmaking is simple: make high-quality, micro-budget films that are designed for wide release. And one of the best parts of this formula is that it allows filmmakers to take risks, to play with high-concepts and stray from the norm. "Insidious: Chapter 2" is a perfect example of that. Taking place directly after the events of the first film, this is a horror movie that isn’t exactly what it seems. It definitely has its scares, but it’s also very much a mystery/thriller – making for an incredibly refreshing, smart horror movie. I had the chance to sit down with Blum, where he spoke about some of his upcoming projects as well as what it takes to make a great sequel.
Do you think you could apply the formula you’ve been using of making these really small budget horror movies and releasing them with big studios with movies outside of the horror genre?
Jason Blum: I think so. We’re going to try with Joe Carnahan’s next movie; he directed a film for us called “Stretch” that Patrick [Wilson] stars in. And we’re done with that…that’s going to come out in March. So that’s going to be our first low budget, wide-release non-horror movie.
And how much did you make that for?
Blum: Under 5 million.
Have you ever thought about remaking an old horror franchise?
Blum: Yeah. We did a movie this year for MGM called “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” which is a remake; we did it with Ryan Murphy. That movie, which was done in the 70s, was the first remake we did. It was fun. I’d like to do more of that.
One of the great things about “Insidious: Chapter 2” was that it felt very fresh and new, especially compared to most sequels nowadays. How do you go about making your sequels so that they don’t just feel like generic copies of the original?
Blum: We’re very kind of conscious of what you just said. We approach sequels where we try and make the movies original enough so that it doesn’t feel like you’re just watching the first movie over again – but not so different that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching [a continuation] of the original movie. So we think about that all the time. In “Insidious 2” we answer a lot of questions about the mythology we pose in the first movie. We do the same thing with the sequels that we do with the original movies – now “Insidious 2” wasn’t a million dollars, but it’s still very, very inexpensive micro-budget, and that allows us to try some different weird things with sequels that you don’t normally see. Because there are so many people involved with a sequel, the creative process gets mushed and it can get kind of generic. So I like to think that our sequels are not generic. And the other key in my mind is that it’s really, really important to try and keep the original people involved in the sequels so that the DNA of the movie is the same.
Did you always plan on making a sequel to Insidious?
Blum: No. Again, if you’re making a movie for $100 million it’s irresponsible not to think about what the franchise would be. But when you’re making a movie for $3 million, I think it’s creatively really bad to think about the second movie…If the movie comes out great and audiences love it, we’ll figure out a sequel, or not. But I think it’s bad – it’s really like putting the cart before the horse. When someone comes and pitches me a new movie and is like ‘It’s a great franchise!’ I’m like ‘that’s already bad.’ Like that’s not a good way to think about it. It should be a great movie. It’s hard enough to make one good movie.
Did you expect the success of “The Purge”?
Blum: No, no that was a shock. I was really shocked, I really didn’t expect it. It was a great weekend. [Laughs]
'Insidious: Chapter 2' hits theaters today. For showtimes in Miami Beach, click here