The pact is a multi-year one and will cover all Blumhouse films outside of the production company’s overall deal with Universal Pictures. The partners first film will be a remake of Benji, the long-running series of films about a mixed-breed dog with a preternatural ability to rescue humans.
The deal comes after a wave of successes for Blumhouse and its founder Jason Blum. The studio recently scored back-to-back box office hits with Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” a buzzy thriller about race relations, and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” a psychological horror film about a man with 23 distinct personalities. The company’s films have made $2.8 billion, but what makes them particularly valuable to studios is they carry small budgets, typically between $5 million to $10 million. That means they are enormously profitable when they connect with audiences.
Meridian is a Chinese company that has started to broaden its investments outside of the Middle Kingdom in recent years. The company has backed the likes of “Casting JonBenet,” an acclaimed documentary about the JonBenet Ramsey murder that Netflix acquired out of the Sundance Film Festival and Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s “A Prayer Before Dawn,” a Muay Thai boxing film that sold to A24 Films out of the Berlin International Film Festival. Founded in 2013 by journalist and media business veteran, Jennifer Dong, it has also backed a number of Chinese box office hits such as “Running Man” and “Mojin: The Lost Legend.”
“As Meridian continues to expand, we are committed to financing high-quality films in various genres, and working with suppliers like Blumhouse, which has a powerful brand and a remarkable track record of success,” Dong said in a statement.
Meridian also partners with FremantleMedia North America and oversees the film business of Random House Studios. In addition to financing and developing television and film projects, it also has in-house marketing and distribution teams for both domestic and foreign films that are trying to access the Chinese market, currently the world’s second biggest source of box office revenue. Meridian also has a first-look and strategic partnership with James Schamus, the former chief of Focus Features, through his company, Symbolic Exchange. Schamus’ company consulted on the Blumhouse deal.
“Meridian has shown a unique ability to support original and daring films in just a few years and we are excited to be in business with Jennifer and her team,” said Blum in a statement.