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Friday, September 11, 2009
Blair Witch Project 3 of 3
After the eight grueling days were over, shooting wrapped and the arduous task of editing material began. In all, Ed and Dan had over 19 hours of usable footage. They kept their promise to John Pierson by producing a segment for the second season of Splitscreen. The piece, now featuring a new cast appeared on Bravo in April of 1998. The discrepancies in the cast seemed to matter little to the fans who were so enthralled by the plight of these students.
Throughout the Summer and Fall of 1998 the picture played in a handful of smaller film festivals across the country. Those successes eventually led to their acceptance into the Sundance Film Festival in 1999. In the early morning hours of January 22nd, 1999, The Blair Witch Project was the first film to be picked up from that years festival when a young company called Artisan snatched up the rights for reportedly between $1 and $1.5 million.
The next six to seven months before the film was released in theatres became a blur for the duo. They appeared on magazine covers, talk-shows, and even went to the Cannes Film Festival in France, perhaps the most prestigious place on earth a filmmaker can have their work shown. On July 16, 1999, Artisan floated the film out in a limited release. Reports quickly came in of lines around the block and sold-out theatres everywhere it was playing. Two weeks later, on July 30th, the film went wide across the country.
America had a severe case of "Blair Witch" fever. Despite Artisan's backpedaling on the "true story" angle as the release approached, large numbers of moviegoers were still confused as to what was reality and what wasn't. This created a fog of mystery and intrigue around the film, which only helped catapault its numbers even higher. In its opening weekend the film took in almost $30 million. It went on to make almost the same the next weekend, a feat almost unheard of with theatrical releases. When it was all said and done the film grossed over $140 million in the U.S. alone, the worldwide total was somewhere in the neighborhood of $248 million.
As for me personally, I love this movie. I watch it every couple of weeks. It never gets stale for me. I love the concept, though not original as many might think it be. More hardcore horror fans know this movie is very much like the 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust, which is quite possibly the most shocking and controversial film ever made. Due to graphic violence and actual animals being killed, the film is still banned in many countries. However the plot is essentially the same. A group of people go out in the woods, this time the jungles of the amazon to prove cannibals do not exist. (more on this film in a later post) When they dont come home, their footage is found and viewed. Ed and Dan claim to have never seen the movie prior to making the Blair Witch Project.
However with its amazing marketing campaign, how little the movie cost to make and what it pulled in this movie by far gets 5 Burning Skulls. Was it the scariest movie? No. Was it the goriest movie? Absolutely not. But the acting was so good to the point that even though most of us knew it was fake we thought the reactions were real. And the way the characters played off each other, everything in this film from pre to post production was done beautifully and will be appreciated by many for years to come. Again, Happy Birthday Blair Witch Project. Please enjoy the trailer below followed by some brief where are they now's with the actors. Pleasant dreams!
Heather Donahue: Heather has continued to pursue acting, mostly in television. Recent roles include the sci-fi original Manticore and 2008's The Morgue. In recent years Heather has sought to distance herself from anything Blair Witch related.
Joshua Leonard: Josh has remained active as an actor in both independent film and television. He recently made the jump to directing, and is currently helming a drama titled Everything's Alright.
Mike C Williams: Mike took a three year hiatus from acting but returned to positive reviews in Ed Sanchez's film Altered. He has also worked with Dan Myrick again, co-starring in the film The Objective. Mike has his own website, www.dearmrspielberg.com