Jason Blum and Blumhouse will be honored by the American Cinematheque this year with the 2022 Power of Cinema Award. Blum, the founder and CEO of Blumhouse, has been a pioneer in making hit genre films at a practical price (“Happy Death Day,” “Get Out”) while also collaborating on prestige Oscar- and Emmy- winning projects like “Whiplash” and “The Normal Heart.”
“It was a real honor and surprise to get the email from Rick Nicita,” Blum tells Variety. “I had to read it a couple of times to get the impact. It forced me to reflect on all of the movies we’ve made and the directors we’ve had the good fortune to work with, and that’s meaningful. When you’re in it, you can just get lost in the day to day, moving from project to project, but it’s nice moments like this that force you to look up and reflect on the company’s progress and good fortune.”
The company had its first horror megahit in 2009 with “Paranormal Activity.” It would go on to be involved with at least 10 horror franchise, including the “The Purge” universe and the “Halloween” reboot.
“Anybody who has created a film franchise, or has tried to, realizes that is no small feat and it’s something we are extremely proud to have accomplished,” Blum says.
Blum, who first saw “Friday the 13th” around the age of eight, says he was initially attracted to the genre because “horror fell outside of the mainstream.”
“I liked that people thought it was weird, and even sometimes a little lesser than. I recognized that horror fans are the best people in the world. They’re so passionate about the movies and very loyal supporters.”
But in the past few years, the genre has earned a lot more respect — likely due in large part to Blumhouse itself. “I think horror and genre films are far more in the mainstream than they used to be and I’d like to think that we contributed to this, or at least helped kick open the door so that more companies could produce horror films and make the fan base bigger,” says Blum “It’s one of those things that make everyone at Blumhouse feel great about the company’s contribution to film and TV.”
As for finding its way into prestige projects, Blum says, “When I started out, no, I wasn’t looking at picking projects because I thought they’d be awards bait. But when you follow your gut and work to get great projects like ‘Get Out,’ ‘The Jinx: The Lives and Deaths of Robert Durst,’ ‘BlacKkKlansman’ and others off the ground, it’s validating when they’re recognized with Emmys and Oscars.”
Up next, Blumhouse has the Amazon series “The Horror of Dolores Roach” with Justina Machado and a full film slate including the killer doll pic “M3GAN” from James Wan’s Atomic Monster Prods. in January. Speaking of Wan, a fifth “Insidious” film is set for release in July and David Gordon Green is helming a new “Exorcist” film in October.
Asked about his own favorite horror films and what he finds terrifying in real life and Blum says it’s hard to not name some of their own movies.
“‘Get Out’ is one of my favorite horror movies because it’s the culmination of Act 1 of Blumhouse: as inexpensively as possible, the director had creative control, and we could take creative risks. It also made such a big impact on the company that it has a special place in my heart,” he says. “As for what scares me — Donald Trump scares me.”
WHAT: The American Cinematheque Awards
WHEN: Nov. 17
WHERE: The Beverly Hilton Hotel