May 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

'Blair Witch Project' actors demand retroactive royalties

'Blair Witch Project' actors demand retroactive royalties

The creative team behind the 1999 horror hit The Blair Witch Project is calling for retroactive compensation increases for the film's three stars, as well as “meaningful consultation” on a reboot of the film soon.

The request came in the form of an open letter headed by Joshua Leonard, one of the stars of the film, and sent to Social media on Saturday, weeks after Lionsgate and Blumhouse Announce reboot.

“While we, the original filmmakers, respect Lionsgate's right to monetize intellectual property as it sees fit, we must highlight the important contributions of the original cast, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Mike Williams,” the letter read, citing the two . Other leads with Leonard.

He continues, “We celebrate the legacy of our film, and equally, we believe the actors deserve to be celebrated for their enduring connection to the franchise.”

The letter was signed by the film's directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, as well as Greg Hill, Robin Coy, and Michael Monello, who were producers of the original film.

“The Blair Witch Project” became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to its shaky cinematography and often improvised dialogue, as well as its shoestring budget and quirky Internet marketing campaign.

The film, which was shot in about a week on a budget of $60,000, was a surprise commercial and critical success, grossing nearly $250 million – a record for an independent film at the time.

The New York Times review called it “the most creative departure from standard horror fare.”

Myrick and Sanchez came up with the idea Film students at the University of Central Florida. They chose Donahue (now known as Ray Hance), Leonard, and Williams to play versions of themselves in the film as documentary filmmakers. The actors received a pittance compared to the total amount: she was paid, Hanes said in an email 1000 dollars For two weeks of work. Additionally, the actors were paid $300,000 upfront rather than the “back end” — a term for residuals, according to Leonard's April 11 Instagram post.

See also  'NCIS Los Angeles' ends with Season 14 in Spring 2023

Dominic Romano, a New York City-based entertainment lawyer, said the attempt by the original “Blair Witch” cast wouldn't stand much of a chance if they tried to take the matter to court.

“The studio took the risk to get it, paid them a set amount, and they could share the risk with the studio,” Romano said. “Instead, they didn't do it at the time of the sale,” he said, adding: “They're trying to renegotiate the deal after the fact.”

The film's success led to two sequels: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in 2000 and Blair Witch in 2016. Myrick and Sanchez were executive producers on both projects, and co-writers on one. Both were commercial disappointments. There's also a “Blair Witch” theme. Immersive escape room in Las Vegas.

Some of the creative staff associated with the original film were surprised by the news.

“At this point, it's 25 years of disrespect on the part of the people who get the lion's share (pun intended) of the profits from our business, and that seems both bad and classless,” Leonard said. On Instagram.

Blum and Lionsgate declined to comment. Representatives for Merrick, Leonard and Sanchez did not respond to requests for comment.

The original film was distributed by Artisan Entertainment, which acquired the rights for $1 million after its release Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Wanting to capitalize on the success of the original, Artisan pushed a sequel – leading to a lawsuit in 2002 Provided by actorsClips of their characters appeared in the film and promotional materials without their permission. Lionsgate acquired Artisan in 2003 and did not negotiate original deals for the actors.

See also  Golden Globes ignores and surprises: Will Smith, Brendan Fraser and more

In their letter, the actors ask for residual payments tied to the “Blair Witch” franchise, which they say they would have received had they had “adequate union or legal representation when producing the film.” Additionally, the team is requesting “meaningful consulting” on future Blair Witch projects as well as a “Blair Witch Scholarship” — a $60,000 annual grant paid to an aspiring filmmaker looking to make their debut.

“We moved forward, but it seemed like Lionsgate would never do it, so it was time for them to pay us for these continued uses,” said Hance, who declined to be interviewed. he said in an Instagram post on April 13.

“This underscores the importance of having legal representation, whether it's a good agent, a good manager, or entertainment lawyers before signing a deal,” Romano said.