Hollywood producer Jason Blum seems to have a Midas touch, turning relatively low-budget horror movies like “Split” and “Get Out” into international blockbusters.
Through his Blumhouse Films shingle, Blum has made more than 82 movies — many of them low-cost, high-return genre successes such as “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge.”
In a profile in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, writer Ryan Bradley reveals some surprising details about the Hollywood executive, from his mobile office in the back of a Ford van to the original ending for “Get Out” to his longtime love for a certain Stoner.
Here are 10 highlights:
1. “Get Out” originally had a more tragic ending
“We tested it with a darker ending,” writer-director Jordan Peele told the magazine. But test audiences rejected the more heavy-handed message and lack of a hero — and Peele went along with the new version that was ultimately released, even doing an impression of Blum offering the filmmaker his advice: “‘Buddy, buddy — you gotta do the happy ending! Give the people what they want!'”
Blumhouse Productions has an office in L.A.’s Filipinotown — in a building that once housed Cat Fancy Magazine.
3. Man with a van
But to “save time and money,” Blum often works out of a gray Ford cargo van whose interior he’s outfitted with “wide plush captain’s seats, two large video displays and window blinds that are nearly always drawn shut.”
4. Lucky college lottery
His roommate as a Vassar undergrad was Noah Baumbach, whose first movie, 1995’s “Kicking and Screaming,” Blum produced at age 26.
5. Art runs in the family
Blum’s father, Irving, was a major dealer in contemporary art who ran the L.A.-based Ferus Gallery — which was the first West Coast art gallery to host a solo show by Andy Warhol. And then Warhol turned Irving Blum onto another great modern artist, Roy Lichtenstein.
6. Open houses
Out of college, he briefly worked as a real estate broker in New York City.
7. He’s hawkish on Hawke
Blum met “Dead Poets Society” star Ethan Hawke in the early ’90s in New York City, and the actor hired Blum to run the Malaparte theater group he had founded with fellow actors like Steve Zahn. “Nobody our age then said they were or wanted to be a producer,” Hawke told the magazine. “Nobody! Except Jason.”
8. …And Roger Corman
Speaking of Hawke, the actor gifted Blum a vintage poster of Roger Corman’s 1963 horror classic “The Terror” that hangs in the conference room of Blumhouse.
9. Stoner love
For the last decade, Blum’s dream project has been to produce an adaptation of John Williams’ 1965 novel “Stoner” about a college English professor in the first half of the 20th century.
10. He says thanks with ice cream
Universal spent $20 million to $30 million to market “Get Out.” To thank Universal’s marketing team for their handling the release of “Get Out,” which was shot for $4.8 million and has grossed more than $200 Million worldwide, Blum rented an ice-cream truck and sent it over to the studio lot.