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Universal Pictures has struck a new 10-year, multiplatform deal with Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse Productions that will include partnerships across NBCUniversal’s businesses, including Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions.
Under the agreement announced Sunday by Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman Jeff Shell, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley and Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, Blumhouse will bring its Sinister franchise, previously distributed by Lionsgate, to Universal’s Focus Features label, which already distributes Blumhouse’s other low-budget franchises Insidious and The Purge. The second installment of The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, produced for $9 million, opened Friday to a weekend debut of an estimated $28.4 million.
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Blum, who hit it big with Paranormal Activity, released by Paramount in 2007, has developed a business model that focuses on producing microbudgeted features at rock-bottom prices, although a number of the films he’s produced in recent years, like the Joe Carnahan-directed comedic thriller Stretch, have not gotten theatrical — or even on-demand — releases. Made for an initial $15,000, Paranormal grossed $200 million worldwide. Overall, Blum’s films, produced at a cost of $40 million, have collected $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office.
Langley, who recruited Blum to come to Universal in 2011, said: “Jason founded a company in Blumhouse that is unique and cutting-edge, and we’re honored that they call Universal home. Jason is extremely driven and highly creative. His style coupled with his industry relationships and strategic business model have been a recipe for much success between our companies. We look forward to expanding our opportunities together.”
Blumhouse’s first film with Universal was The Purge, which cost $3 million and opened to $34.1 million, in 2013. His next release for the studio will be the supernatural thriller Ouija, which will be released Oct. 24. It will be followed by a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, The Boy Next Door, which opens Jan. 23, and the next chapter in the Insidious franchise, to be released by Focus Features. Blumhouse and Universal’s other microbudget projects in development and production include Hasbro’s Jem and the Holograms and In a Valley of Violence starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta.
In addition to the new film relationship, Blumhouse also will be forming partnerships with NBCUniversal to provide a variety of content including network and cable television shows, digital properties and more, he and Universal announced. In recent years, Blumhouse has been ramping up its television business and is working on both scripted and nonscripted shows including projects for Syfy (Ascension, which is currently in production), MTV (Eye Candy), ABC and Mike Darnell. Blumhouse previously executive produced the Emmy-nominated and Critics’ Choice award winner The Normal Heart for HBO, Stranded for Syfy and The River for ABC.
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Blum said of the new deal: “Jeff and Donna and the entire team at Universal are the best at what they do. They take our microbudget, filmmaker-driven genre movies and turn them into highly profitable, global franchises through their commitment, passion and creativity. The first thing people see when they walk into Blumhouse is the ‘wall of directors,’ where we hang photos of all of our filmmakers. We are very excited to continue building on our success with Universal by adding to that ever-growing wall and giving more and more directors and now showrunners creative freedom to tell their stories.”
“This studio has had an incredible experience working with Blumhouse and it only makes sense to broaden that partnership to NBCUniversal’s broadcast and cable networks,” Shell said. “Jason and his team bring an energy and focus that can be felt across the company, and we are thrilled to honor his passion for entertainment with a long-term commitment and extension of that relationship.”
CAA, Blumhouse consultant Charles Layton, John Diemer and Carlos Goodman negotiated the deal with NBCUniversal on behalf of Blumhouse.
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