Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions have sealed a new 10-year first-look production agreement that will also include partnerships with Universal TV and Universal Cable Productions, the two companies said Sunday.
Universal and Blumhouse have been partners since 2011, and word of the new arrangement came on the same day that Blumhouse’s “The Purge: Anarchy” opened to $28 million at the weekend box office — or three times its production budget.
Blumhouse will also bring its “Sinister” horror movie franchise to Focus Features, making Universal home to three of the company’s most profitable micro-budget franchises including “The Purge” and “Insidious,” which is already based at Focus.
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“This studio has had an incredible experience working with Blumhouse and it only makes sense to broaden that partnership to NBCUniversal’s broadcast and cable networks,” said Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell, who made the announcement Sunday along with Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley and Jason Blum, chief executive at Blumhouse.
“Jason and his team bring an energy and focus that can be felt across the company and we are thrilled to honor his passion for entertainment with a long term commitment and extension of that relationship,” Shell said.
Langley, who recruited Blum to come to Universal added, “Jason founded a company in Blumhouse that is unique and cutting edge, and we’re honored that they call Universal home. Jason is extremely driven and highly creative. His style coupled with his industry relationships and strategic business model have been a recipe for much success between our companies. We look forward to expanding our opportunities together.”
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Blumhouse’s film division specializes in micro-budget genre movies, which includes the highly profitable “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” “The Purge” and “Sinister” franchises, which have grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide on combined budgets under $40 million.
Blumhouse’s model began with the original “Paranormal Activity,” which was made for $15,000 and grossed close to $200 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film in Hollywood history. The company’s first film with Universal was the huge summer 2013 hit “The Purge,” which debuted at No. 1 and grossed 11 times its $3 million budget in the first weekend ($34.1 million).
Blumhouse’s next releases with Universal will be the supernatural thriller “Ouija,” which will be released Oct. 24, 2014; a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, “The Boy Next Door” which opens Jan. 23, 2015; and the next chapter in the “Insidious” franchise to be released by Focus Features.
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Blumhouse and Universal’s other micro-budget projects in development and production include Hasbro’s “Jem and the Holograms” and “In a Valley of Violence,” starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta.
“Jeff and Donna and the entire team at Universal are the best at what they do,” said Blum. “They take our micro-budget, filmmaker-driven genre movies and turn them into highly-profitable, global franchises through their commitment, passion and creativity.
“The first thing people see when they walk into Blumhouse is the ‘wall of directors’ where we hang photos of all of our filmmakers. We are very excited to continue building on our success with Universal by adding to that ever growing wall and giving more and more directors and now show-runners creative freedom to tell their stories.”
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Blumhouse will also be forming partnerships with NBCUniversal to provide a variety of content including network and cable television shows, digital properties and more.
Blumhouse has been ramping up its TV business and is working on both scripted and non-scripted shows including projects for Syfy (“Ascension,” which is currently in production), MTV (“Eye Candy”), ABC and Mike Darnell. Blumhouse previously executive produced the Emmy-nominated and Critics’ Choice award-winner “The Normal Heart” for HBO, “Stranded” for Syfy and “The River” for ABC.
CAA, Blumhouse consultant Charles Layton, John Diemer and Carlos Goodman negotiated the deal with NBCUniversal on behalf of Blumhouse.