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There can't be many people in Hollywood who are as busy as Jason Blum. The acclaimed producer has his fingers in a number of pies, one of which being The Purge movie franchise, which is celebrating its fifth production, as The Forever Purge hits cinemas this week.
The series is renowned for its striking commentary on modern American politics, but Blum explains that before audiences are served up a 'message', first and foremost: the movie has to be scary.
“I think horror films are a great delivery system. Nobody wants to see a movie about a social theme, or a message movie, but people wanna see horror movies,” he told Yahoo.
“The goal is that is that it’s scary and entertaining and fun to a certain degree, if it’s not that, nobody hears the message.”
In our wide-ranging chat below, we tackle many different topics including The Forever Purge, Get Out, Sylvester Stallone, Halloween, The Exorcist, Paranormal Activity, Wolfman and Dracula.
The Forever Purge is in cinemas now.
Yahoo: The Forever Purge director James DeMonaco initially saw The Purge as a small indie film, too dark for mainstream crowds. Do you remember what it was that made you see this premise on a more global scale?
Jason Blum: I just loved this idea of what if crime was legal for 12 hours a year. It’s such a huge idea. Who doesn’t think ‘if I could only break the law’? Even if it’s just a speed limit, or stealing a sandwich, whatever, I mean hopefully not everybody would think if it was legal they would go out and kill people, I hope, but I think it’s a great universally appealing idea. It’s also very rich, in a society where that exists, there are an infinite amount of stories to tell, so I had faith it would go beyond the indie world.
Why do you think genre films are good for storytellers to explore relevant social themes and messages?
I think horror films are a great delivery system. Nobody wants to see a movie about a social theme, or a message movie, but people wanna see horror movies. So I really think it’s more that, if you have something you wanna say about society as an artist, a great way to say it, where people will actually hear it, is by writing a horror movie.
So that’s one of the really fun things about horror. Now we do all kinds of horror movies, some that are just plain scary. I should say every horror movie that we do, the goal is that it is scary and entertaining and fun to a certain degree, if it’s not that, nobody hears the message. Some of the movies have a social message about the world, and some of them don’t.
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I think it is so hard to make a good movie, that I don’t tell filmmakers that not only does the film have to be good but they have to say something with it, some of them choose to, some of them don’t. But I tell them the film has to be good and it has to be scary.
You were involved in the Oscar-winning Get Out do you think we should see more horror films be recognised on award’s terms?
I think that Get Out should’ve won Best Picture. Nobody ever remembers the movie that did win Best Picture that year [It was Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water]. Get Out is on every list and that movie I never see on any lists.
So I do think there is still a thought, both inside and outside of Hollywood, that horrors are kind of lesser, and I think Get Out has helped change that, and I think people are more open to thinking that it’s not only dramas that are award’s worthy. But we’re still like a step-child of the movie business. But that’s also kind of why I like horror.
You had a meeting with Sylvester Stallone, was that to talk about getting involved in The Purge franchise?
— Jason Blum (@jason_blum) August 7, 2019
I’d love to work with him in the future. We met about a film James [DeMonaco] made about Rocky 3 [This is the Night] which hasn’t come out, and we wanted to show him that film and talk to him about Rocky.
I think The Purge came up. James is saying that this is the last Purge movie but I think I can talk him into at least one more. And if there was a part for Sylvester Stallone, we would offer it to him and hope he said 'yes'.
You're producer on Halloween, 2021's Halloween Kills, and 2022's Halloween Ends. We know the story will continue in Ends, so Kills is kind of a set-up movie – how did that work in this genre?
Well it’s tough, a very tough parameter to put around the storytelling. Luckily we had two amazing writers in Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, wrote all three movies together. They solved that riddle for us very elegantly, but you’re right, it was a real riddle and it was hard to do. Like I said, it’s hard enough to make a good movie, but when you put parameters around it, it has to be good and where things have to happen, it’s even harder. But I think they did an amazing job.
You mentioned you want to talk James into another Purge movie, might that be the case with David and Halloween? Or will these three movies be the final chapter in that everlasting series?
Will there be more after the three? Boy, that’s anybody’s guess I gotta talk a lot more people than David into that.
You've another Paranormal Activity on the way. Nowadays we have so much kit as our disposal, has that changed the way you approach these found-footage movies as a storyteller?
Well I think it really has, but it has made them easier. We spent so much time in the early Paranormal movies justifying the camera. We always had to justify it. Especially when someone is in danger, if the other person is holding a camera, they’re not very sympathetic. They should put their camera down, and help the person in danger, you know? So we always had that problem.
But that became a lot less of a problem in this last Paranormal movie, and in this movie I really encouraged the director to try new and different things. There have been enough of the reel of the different fixed cameras and stuff, there is such a language of Paranormal Activity, that I really encouraged him to try new things. I think we’ll see that in the movie, the movie doesn’t feel like the other Paranormal Activity movies, in a positive way.
How will your The Exorcist sequel go about shocking audiences in a now populated 'demonic possession' arena?
Well we’re gonna surprise everyone with The Exorcist. I know there are a lot of sceptics out there, a lot of people who think this is sacred ground that we should not be treading on. But my job is to prove them wrong and I am confident. We have a terrific script, we’re going to make the movie in the next 18 months or so, and like I said, I’m going to prove my sceptics and critics wrong. I dare them to go and see my movie.
Do you ever feel a pressure from fans?
Yeah you to have to ignore them, but I appreciate fans and I love fans. I wouldn’t be in a business without fans. Maybe I shouldn’t say ignore, you have to kind of pick and choose the things the listen to and the things not to listen to, and that’s what we do with the fans.
Watch the trailer for Halloween Kills
Ryan Turek who works at the company is really tuned into the fanbase and he always says like, ‘no you can never do that!’ and for Halloween he was terrific, he would tell us what we couldn’t do, and what was okay. But you can’t make everybody happy all the time, but we try and make most people happy most of the time, and if we do that, we’re succeeding.
You're working on The Wolfman after The Invisible Man was a huge hit. Is there a scope there for a potential Monster-Verse?
I hope so. We have no immediate plans for that, but long-term I would love to see that, I think it would be a lot of fun.
What stage are you at with your Dracula movie?
Dracula is moving rapidly forward I would say, moving rapidly forward.
The Forever Purge is in cinemas now. Watch a preview below.