Jason Blum Explains Why Blumhouse Is Veering Toward Higher Budgets

Mar 9, 2024

The Big Picture

Collider’s Perri Nemiroff chats with producer Jason Blum and director Jeff Wadlow about their new horror movie,
When Alice develops an attachment to a stuffed bear named Chauncey, her family brushes it off as a charming connection between a child and her imaginary friend. But, when Chauncey’s scavenger hunt becomes increasingly sinister, they’re forced to acknowledge that Chauncey might be more than a stuffed toy.

hits theaters nationwide on March 8th.

Blumhouse is well known for producing low-budget horror movies that pop at the box office. They’re still very much in the low budget filmmaking game, especially compared to the many studio releases with astronomical budgets, but in recent years, there has been an uptick in the amount they spend on their theatrically released films. Back in the early days, they spent a reported $1.5 million on Insidious and a mere $3 million on Sinister. This year, Night Swim came with a reported $15 million price tag while their latest, Imaginary, cost about $10 million to produce.

Imaginary puts the spotlight on young Alice, played by Pyper Braun. After moving into her stepmother Jess’ (DeWanda Wise) childhood home, Alice finds a stuffed bear named Chauncey. Initially, Jess brushes it off as a harmless connection between a kid and her imaginary friend, but when Chauncey’s scavenger hunt becomes increasingly dangerous, Jess is forced to reckon with the possibility that he might be more than just a stuffed bear.

While celebrating Imaginary’s March 8th release, producer Jason Blum and director Jeff Wadlow took a moment to discuss the making of the film, and also how the changing landscape is impacting Blumhouse’s approach to making horror movies in general. Check out what Blum told me about the growing budgets for Blumhouse theatrical releases, what Wadlow had to say about the development of Chauncey Bear, and loads more in the video interview at the top of this article or in the transcript of our conversation below.

Imaginary A woman returns to her childhood home to discover that the imaginary friend she left behind is very real and unhappy that she abandoned him.Release Date March 8, 2024 Director Jeff Wadlow Cast DeWanda Wise , Tom Payne , Betty Buckley , Veronica Falcón Runtime 104 Minutes

PERRI NEMIROFF: Jason, an obnoxiously big question to start. Can you tell me something about your approach to producing horror movies that has stayed the same since day one, but then also tell me something new that you’re doing now to evolve with how the industry is changing and how viewer habits are changing?

JASON BLUM: Something that’s stayed the same is our model of no money up front and make the money if the movie works, is the same as it’s always been. Something that’s different is our budgets are not as low. We used to make movies for a million or three million or five million. Now we’re more like 10 to 15 million to try and remain competitive in what is a very, you know, difficult theatrical marketplace.

Just because I’m curious now, do you see a future where the lower-budget horror movies do have potential in this industry, or has that time kind of come and gone?

BLUM: Well, they have a lot of potential on streaming and on television. And we still make lower budget movies for streaming, very low-budget movies for streaming and television, one. And two, 100% for sure someone is gonna make a million-dollar – the next Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity. Someone will make that, figure out what that is. But as a rule, it’s much harder to make a movie for two or three million that will wind up in a theater than it used to be.

‘Imaginary’s Chauncey Bear Channels Leatherface & ‘Donnie Darko’s Frank
Image via Blumhouse

Jeff, for you a question about designing Chauncey. First, did you always know that you wanted him to be a stuffed bear or did you ever consider any other options?

JEFF WADLOW: Chauncey was gonna be a stuffed bear pretty much from jump street. I wanted to make a movie about an imaginary friend. I signed a first look deal with Jason, and so I was starting to talk to other writers, seeing if they wanted to collaborate with me, and Greg Erb is an old friend of mine and his writing partner, Jason Oremland, came in and they wanted to make an evil teddy bear movie. I think an evil teddy bear movie alone was not enough, an imaginary friend movie was not enough, but when we combined them it really just kind of blossomed in our minds.

And combining them led to Chauncey Beast. What would you say is the biggest difference between how you pictured the Bear Beast looking when you first committed to this idea and what it turned out to look like in the finished product?

WADLOW: It’s pretty close, I gotta be honest with you. I remember writing in the action that it looked like a Leatherface meets the rabbit from Donnie Darko, and I feel like we kind of have that effect. He’s kind of got this sort of sagging, terrifying face that is evocative of Leatherface, he’s got that sort of man-in-a-suit quality of the rabbit in Donnie Darko. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. But that being said, that was just my initial idea. I have so many incredible collaborators — Spectral Motion made all the monsters in our movie. They helped me design the Bear Beast, design the suit. Dane [DiLiegro], who’s a suit performer who had played Predator in the previous Predator film, he added so much to the performance. So I guess, in one sense, it very much was what I imagined, but in another sense it was far more terrifying than I could have ever imagined.

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Imaginary.]

‘Imaginary’ Director Established One Very Important Rule for Chauncey Bear
Image via Lionsgate

One more Chauncey question for you because I tend to get a little obsessed with movie bibles and lore and rules so I was wondering, did you whip up a Chauncey bible or set of rules, and if so, what would you say are the top rules that stuck with you in terms of how Chauncey operates and also what his limitations are?

WADLOW: The number one rule — in fact, I wrote it on a notecard and put it on my wall in my office during prep; I wrote it on a piece of tape and put it on my monitors during production; they actually put it on the call sheet every day — the number one rule for Chauncey was the bear is not there. We had to say that over and over and over again because we had to remind all the actors on set not to look at the bear. When you see the film you’ll realize that only Jessica and Alice can see the bear. So anytime Taegen was in a scene or Betty was in a scene or Veronica was in a scene, I had to constantly be reminding them, because it’s easy to forget on set. You know, Pyper’s holding the stuffed bear, had to look at the stuffed bear, interact with stuffed bear — don’t do it. The bear is not there.

Jason Blum Wants to Make a New ‘Friday the 13th’ Movie with James Wan

Jason, you know I have to ask you one upcoming project question before I leave.You have a million things going on and we never know when we look at IMDb whether something’s really happening or not, so I’m gonna put the power in your hands. If you could snap your fingers right now and green light the Blumhouse project of your choice, what would you pick and why?

BLUM: Friday the 13th is what I would pick. It’s not a Blumhouse project, but I’m trying to will it into being one. It’s just a piece of IP I’ve always loved. And James Wan and Atomic Monster are very passionate about it, and I think we would have them shepherd it for us. That would be a lot of fun.

WADLOW: I’m crushed. I wanted it to be Imaginary 2. Why can’t you say Imaginary 2? You can snap your fingers and make anything happen! I’m sitting right here! [Laughs]

There’s an Imaginary anthology series where you just keep jumping around to different families and different imaginary friends. I think there’s great potential there!

BLUM: I don’t want to jinx it.

There’s no jinxing. There’s only manifesting when you talk to Collider!

Looking for even more Imaginary talk? Be sure to catch my conversation with Pyper Braun and Taegen Burns below:

Imaginary is now playing in theaters in the U.S. Click below for showtimes.

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Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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