Image: LionsgateLionsgate ready to pull the plug as Blair Witch makes less than Book of Shadows opening weekend

By Jay Hunter – The talk of the weekend for horror fans was Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch sequel, marketed as ‘a new beginning for horror films’ and ‘the scariest movie of the decade’ it seems many fans left their theatres disappointed, not only that but it looks like they told everyone they knew as well.

Blair Witch made a paltry $9.7 million at the box-office, falling way short of it’s projected $20 million haul. Noticeably, this is less than the much maligned Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which made $13 million in it’s opening weekend. Speakingto Deadline on the matter, Blair Witch 2 director Joe Berlinger went on to say;

“I have nothing but respect for Adam Wingard, and I hope the film is great; I haven’t seen it yet,” he tells the outlet.

Ironically, I was in Toronto and just couldn’t bring myself to go see it and relive the trauma. What trauma? The studio recut [my] film and inserted scenes of gore against my will, and I didn’t have the courage back then to just remove my name from the film. And then to be eviscerated by critics on a cut of the film that I did not sanction was doubly painful. That’s not to say that my director’s cut would have garnered a better reaction from critics per se, [but] at least I could have stood by the film for representing my vision, and if people hated that version, it would have been less painful because it’s what I would have wanted to be seen.

But why I tweeted today is this: There is also this myth that the film was a financial disaster… In fact, it was still Artisan’s second highest grossing film in their history, the highest being the original BW. It grossed $48 million worldwide on a $10 million budget and did over $25 million on DVD… Pure gravy on DVD… People talk of this film as a total failure and franchise killer. The first film, which I have tremendous respect for, was a phenomenon because of how it was marketed, as a real documentary, at a naive and early stage of the Internet. That was one of the themes buried in my film that got butchered.

No film… not mine or Adam Wingard’s, was going to do that kind of business. Creatively, my intention was to do something very meta that made fun of the very idea of doing a sequel, but the studio butchered the film at the 12th hour. But my film still grossed $13 million opening weekend with a lot of hate being thrown my way prior to release; movie tickets were a lot cheaper in 2000 [than] now; I was released on less screens, and with inflation and movie ticket prices taken into account, my grosses in today’s dollars were about $20M, per a Forbes magazine column yesterday. I was handed a lot of hate and told I killed the franchise.

A number of possible factors could come into consideration here, first off the movies marketing may of backfired, hyping the movie up so much that it could never possibly live up to expectation, leaving the audience angry, or the regular movie goer simply didn’t know there’s a new Blair Witch movie out. Secondly, 1999’s The Blair Witch Project is one of the most polarising movies of all time, where many people sing it’s praises, perhaps the negativity outweighed the positivity and demand for a sequel simply wasn’t there. Finally, let’s not forget that Blair Witch went up against Sully, a feel good true-story helmed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, two of the biggest names working in Hollywood today.

That’s not to say Blair Witch didn’t have it’s fans, Adam Winged went on record to say that he’s never felt such passionate arguments from both sides of the fence. Many people are adamant that this certainly is one of the strongest horror movies of the last ten years, which they’re perfectly entitled to think.

With Blair Witch making back less than double it’s small budget on opening weekend, it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing a sequel any time soon, however Adam Wingard still stands as one of the most impressive horror directors working in Hollywood today, shortly adding I Saw The Devil & Death Note to his impressive resume.

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