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Chris McCumber has made his first big swing since taking over as Blumhouse TV president last year.
The former USA Network and Syfy president has, following a competitive bidding war, landed the rights for Blumhouse TV to adapt The Battersea Poltergeist podcast as an ongoing scripted series called Blumhouse’s Ghost Story. Additionally, the production company is readying a companion unscripted series.
The moves are part of a massive spend that also includes Shirley Hitchings’ life rights as well as that of her book with James Clark, The Poltergeist Prince of London: The Remarkable True Story of the Battersea Poltergeist.
The projects, say sources, will be a top priority for Blumhouse and McCumber. Blumhouse and Micahel Seitzman’s Maniac Productions will share the rights to BBC Radio 4’s podcast as the companies hope to launch a lucrative franchise and possible anthology exploring various ghost stories.
Written by Danny Robins, Battersea Poltergeist was the No. 1 drama podcast worldwide, featuring more than 3 million downloads per month. It documents the strange events focused around Hitchings in 1956 that were investigated over a 12-year period, the longest documented poltergeist haunting in history. The scripted series will be a co-production between Blumhouse and BBC, which commissioned the podcast.
“From our first listen to Danny’s captivating podcast, we were hooked and could easily envision how to bring the story to life — in both scripted and unscripted formats — for television viewers,” said McCumber, who joined Blumhouse in November. “We’re grateful to Michael Seitzman for identifying the project early on, and championing it so aggressively.”
Robins, Seitzman, Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold and McCumber will executive produce the scripted and unscripted shows, with Emma Cooper (The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann) also attached to the unscripted series.
“It’s been an amazing journey making the podcast for the BBC and now I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner than Blumhouse, a leader in the genre, when looking to further develop it,” said Robins, who earned a BAFTA nomination for his BBC series Young Dracula. “I’m thrilled to work with them and Michael to bring the series to life visually. Ghost stories don’t get stranger or scarier than this.”
The project is the second to come from the overall deal Seitzman (Code Black, Quantico) signed in January with his friend Blum’s company. Seitzman previously helped lock in the company’s scripted and unscripted entry Choir at Disney+.
“Once you listen to the gripping and terrifying true story of Shirley Hitchings, it’s easy to understand why Danny’s podcast inspired two-page spreads in every newspaper in the U.K.,” said Seitzman. “It was exactly what we’d been looking for to launch our new ongoing series based on true hauntings. As he did with his podcast, Danny Robins will have viewers sleeping with the lights on after they watch his show!”
Battersea Poltergeist joins a slate of Blumhouse originals including The Good Lord Bird, The Loudest Voice, A Wilderness of Error, The Jinx, A Secret Love and Sharp Objects, among others.
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