Producer Jason Blum is bringing his micro-budget production model to the small screen through a agreement forged with Universal Cable Prods.
Syfy and USA Network have both given Blumhouse Prods. a blind series commitment as part of the deal. Blumhouse will develop scripted and non-scripted programming.
“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,” said Jeff Wachtel, chief content officer for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “It’s part of our studio’s strategy of being flexible with existing models and finding new ways to bring great ideas to market. 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.”
Blumhouse’s micro-budget template calls for keeping upfront production costs low, with the company forgoing advance fees in exchange for performance-based incentives, which will be triggered if a series makes it to a second season and beyond. UCP said the model would also give showrunners get more creative control and the opportunity to make their “dream show.”
“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,” Blum said. “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.”
Blum established himself as a film biz player with the surprise success of 2007’s “Paranormal Activity,” made for a fraction of the cost of a typical low-budget film. Blum said last week during an appearance at the Television Critics Assn. press tour that he was spending half of his time working on TV projects these days. Under the direction of Blumhouse’TV chief Jessica Rhoades, the company has ramped up quickly with three current series: Syfy’s “Ascension,” We TV’s “South of Hell,” from Eli Roth; and MTV’s upcoming “Eye Candy.”
Blum signed an unusually broad first-look deal spanning film, digital and TV with NBCUniversal last year that encompassed UCP and the Peacock’s network production arm, Universal TV. The micro-budget TV template will be specific to Universal Cable Prods.