Go ahead, pull up IMDB and look up Jason Blum.
If you don’t work in Hollywood, you may not totally be aware of what Blumhouse is, but you are aware of the movies that have come out of the company, shepherded by horror luminary, Jason Blum. What started with films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious and their multiple sequels, evolved into more mainstream hits like Whiplash, The Purge, Get Out, Glass, Halloween, BlacKkKlansman, Us, Ma, and who can forget 2018’s Benji.
And with hundreds of films in development, production and post, it’s no wonder Jason Blum is having a bit of a field day. It’s not wonder he’s seeking to evolve from horror luminary, to just plain ‘ol luminary-in-chief. Which is why, as any successful company CEO tries to do, he’s looking to evolve the company and develop a go-forward strategy that will grow his company’s market share and influence in the entertainment landscape.
But that’s not really the story.
This is. Fantasy Island. Go ahead, watch the trailer. We’ll wait.
Do you remember Fantasy Island? The Aaron Spelling comedy/drama from the 80’s? Do you remember the bright colors, the fantastical situations, the storylines that focused on individuals coming to the island and getting the opportunity to experience the kind of lifelong dreams they’d always hoped for but never had the chance to? Let us remind you:
We’d like to let you in on a little Hollywood secret when it comes to why projects get made, why creative executives say yes, and why fear (ironically, when talking about Blumhouse and the genre films they make) is the one reason movies get made over anything else.
It’s called I.P.. Intellectual property.
If you’re a Creative Executive and you want to keep your job and you’re in a position to green light a movie, and you’re faced with making a decision that is between an original, highly well-regarded piece of writing and an idea based on a piece of intellectual property? I.P.. that already has a build in audience, a brand people are familiar with, and something that may have been based on a TV show, book, article or podcast? The I.P. will win every single time.
So it’s no surprise that Fantasy Island is now being made into a horror/genre film by Blumhouse.
But if Jason Blum is going to continue to make movies for a price, an market the hell out of them, and generate solid box office and profit for a long time from now, he should focus on original ideas over turning once-cherished TV shows into genre horror films. Seeing Fantasy Island morphed into what it has now become causes worry for us. We are not ready for the genre versions of The Greatest American Hero (where an alien-provided supersuit turns a teacher into a killer), Mr. Belvedere (where a creepy British servant starts trying to destroy a family from the inside), Silver Spoons (where a kid is adopted by a rich billionaire into an amazing new life only to uncover the truth about how he’s really making his money), The Facts of Life (about a well-regarded private school for girls that is slowly turning them into Stepford-like robots), Benson (about an African American staff member working for the President, who secretly begins to destroy the administration from the inside out) and of course, our beloved Dukes of Hazzard — the story of country hicks in their sports cars who terrorize a vacationing family who get stuck in Boss Hogg-controlled territory.
Get Out, Us, The Purge…these are just some of the social-conscious, original ideas that Blumhouse has shepherded into the media landscape. They’re made for a price, marketed like hell, and will always generate more profit in the long run than things like ALF, the genre horror film about a family welcoming an alien into their suburban life, only to realize it’s hell bent on eating every feline in the neighborhood.
Blumhouse is one of the few production companies making original, high-concept projects. We’ve seen them. We love them. We just don’t want them disappearing in favor of dreck like Fantasy Island, which we haven’t seen, so we can’t say for sure just yet how bad (or good) it might be.
But that’s an entirely different story altogether.