If you ever get a chance to interview Jason Blum I heartily recommend you do it. The producer of the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge franchises is the kind of industry mogul who always seems happy to talk about his projects old and new, give as honest and answer as he can and share his excitement over what he gets to do for a living. He genuinely seems to like the movies he's making, and he should: most of them are pretty great, like Insidious: Chapter 2, a film we here at CraveOnline think outshines the original.
Insidious: Chapter 2 comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on December 24, 2013, so we got Jason Blum on the phone to talk about their latest success story, the future of Blumhouse Productions in television (he's got an announcement for us), why he won't make a sequel to Dark Skies, and an update on The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes, a film recently rumored to have fallen out of production (not true, says Blum).
CraveOnline: I remember when the first Insidious came out, Leigh Whannell played the idea of a sequel very close to the vest. But now that we’ve seen Insidious: Chapter 2 it really looks like he had the story planned out all along. Is that the case?
Jason Blum: No, he’s good but he’s not that good! [Laughs.] No, the one who wanted the sequel all along was me, but James and Leigh were very… They went through the Saw experience, so they know a lot about sequels and how this all works. Part of the deal of making the first Insidious was that it could be a standalone movie. We didn’t sign a deal with them when they made the first movie that obligated them to make a sequel. There was no talk about the sequel really at all. So I’m glad you thought that, but like I said, he’s great, but he isn’t that great. [Laughs.]
Well, I hope he reads this.
So the idea for a sequel, that was you. You saw the need, or the demand?
Why did I want to do a sequel?
Because when you make a movie for nothing and it turns into something that Insidious turned into, which is a really, really original, out of left field horror movie, I think if you can make a sequel with the guys who created the first movie and then extend that mythology it’s a super-fun puzzle. Every year – until this year, it took 18 months – but every year we make a Paranormal Activity, and it’s one of the biggest charges I get out of my creative life, is working within the puzzle of what a sequel requires. Which is, it has to be new enough so people feel like this is different, but not so different that they feel like, “Why is this a sequel? It has nothing to do with the first movie.”
I’m a big believer in creating parameters for creativity. I think parameters make people more creative. So that starts with my budgets. I only do low budget movies, and I think that makes the movies better. I think that the movies that we do are better because our budgets are lower, and it forces people to think within a box. I think that sequels are the same thing. The world is very cynical about sequels. Everyone thinks they’re money grabs, and this and that and everything else. So the bar is very low.
So I learned with Paranormal – I think we succeeded two out of three times in the three sequels that we’ve done on that franchise – where we went right and where we went wrong. I think that when you can make a sequel and have people go, “God, I thought that was going to suck and it’s great,” as a creator it’s a very, very gratifying feeling. So that’s a long answer to your very short question.
I’m curious, since you brought it up… You said you felt you were successful two out of three times in the Paranormal Activity sequels. Which of the sequels didn’t quite nail it?
Oh, I’m not going to tell you that, my friend. [Laughs.]
Oh, I see. But there is one of them… and they know what they did…
In my mind, one of them was less successful than the other two, yes.