Jason Blum is bringing his micro-budget philosophy to TV.
His Blumhouse Productions, which is behind The Purge, Insidious and Paranormal Activity, announced Tuesday that it’s inked a multiyear agreement with Universal Cable Productions to implement that financial and creative structure for the small screen. This pact, which was born out of a larger first-look commitment Blumhouse signed with parent company NBCUniversal, will focus on creating scripted and nonscripted fare on that model. As part of the pact, NBCU cable networks Syfy and USA have each given Blumhouse and UCP a blind series commitment.
“Blumhouse has achieved tremendous financial and creative success with its production model in the feature film business and together, we figured out a way to adapt the model for television. It’s part of our studio’s strategy of being flexible with existing models and finding new ways to bring great ideas to market,” NBCU Cable president and chief creative officer Jeff Wachtel said in a statement. “And because real success is always in the execution, we would only do this type of deal with a company like Blumhouse, who we know can deliver the quality.”
As part of its plan, Blumhouse will look to create an entire season of a scripted series for the average production cost of a traditional cable pilot. As in Blumhouse’s film model, the financial model for TV will involve low upfront production costs, including no fee for Blumhouse coupled with performance-based incentives, which for TV will be triggered by a season two and subsequent season pickups.
“When we launched our television business, one of our goals was to try and build on what we have done in film — keeping budgets low to give storytellers creative freedom and to increase profits,” added Blum. “Jeff Wachtel and his entire team at Universal Cable Productions have been at the forefront of trying new models in television and we are grateful to be a small part of their process. We are excited to get going as we partner with both new and established show runners looking to tell their favorite stories.”
To date, Blumhouse’s micro-budget films have collectively grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide on combined budgets under $45 million. The company has recently expanded into TV production, with such projects as Ascension on Syfy and Eye Candy at MTV, while Blum serves an executive producer on HBO’s upcoming doc series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, as he did on Emmy-winning telepic The Normal Heart.