Like every other studio and production company in the business of making movies and TV shows, Blumhouse Productions has watched its content pipeline come to a nearly complete stop for much of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept around the globe.
Active work — including pre-production, live filming and post-production — initially ground to a halt for the better part of the past seven months, with production initially starting up again overseas only toward the end of summer as places like the U.K. and other European locales seemed to get a lid on the virus (that may be in question again, however).
Meanwhile, the business of creating new movies and TV series has slowly begun to awaken again here in North America, although the U.S. in particular and its failed leadership have showed no real signs of containing COVID-19 in a meaningful way. But some companies are back at work, with limited personnel and strict safety protocols in place, and Blumhouse is among them.
“We’re beginning to shoot,” says Blumhouse president Jason Blum when we spoke with him via Zoom for his new Welcome to the Blumhouse series of films.
“We’re shooting a lot of unscripted already,” Blum says. “We’re beginning to shoot our lower budgeted stuff, both in film and TV. The beginning, the first quarter of next year is when we’re going to start our first larger budget thing.”
While Blumhouse is primarily best known for its horror films and TV shows, the company does indeed dabble in the unscripted arena (a revival of the early 2000s show Scare Tactics is among its recently announced titles) and has also produced Oscar-nominated dramatic fare like Whiplash and BlacKkKlansman.
But even though the company’s output, especially with its genre fare, has been prolific in recent years, Blum says that he does not expect the company to be back up to full speed in the near term.
“We’re definitely not up to where we were in 2019 at all,” he admits. “It just all depends on a vaccine. Put it this way, until there was a vaccine, I don’t think we’ll get the level of production that we had pre-COVID. I don’t think we’re going to return to that level until there’s a vaccine, but next year I anticipate we’ll make about maybe two-thirds as many movies as we were before. TV’s a little easier because it’s a little less expensive. TV hopefully will be similar to ’19, not ’20.”
As for Welcome to the Blumhouse, the first two of eight genre films acquired for that anthology premiere Tuesday (October 6) on Amazon Prime, with two more coming on October 13 and the rest scheduled for 2021. The Craft: Legacy premieres on the same service on October 28, and while the movie Freaky is slated to arrive theatrically in November, it’s a good bet that could shift to VOD depending on the circumstances.
Also in the Blumhouse pipeline are a TV show based on the Leigh Whannell movie Upgrade, while two Halloween sequels and The Forever Purge are all waiting in the wings for release in 2021 and 2022. Also in the works: new takes on Dracula and The Wolf Man, a long-developing Five Nights at Freddy’s movie, another reboot of The Thing and a new adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter. When will we see some of those? As Jason Blum himself hints, it all depends on when and if we finally beat COVID-19…a struggle which has become a horror show all its own.