With whispers of a possible reboot, The Blair Witch Project has yet to disappear from our cinematic consciousness.
There have been some interesting reports on some movements with the Blair Witch franchise. Last month, reporter Jeff Sneider of The Ankler tweeted, “EXCLUSIVE: Start prepping those pitches, genre scribes, because it sounds like Lionsgate is ready to venture back into the woods again for another BLAIR WITCH PROJECT since good IP is never truly dead in the Streaming Age...” eluding to Lionsgate looking for writers to pitch a new take on the franchise.
We all remember The Blair Witch Project (1999) paving the way for found footage films. It starred Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams as three lost and presumed dead college students making a documentary about a local urban legend in Burkettsville, Maryland. It was the first film in an unexpected franchise, sparking an entire genre of simply shot, up-close-and-personal films. Audiences were so captivated by the story of Heather, Josh, and Mike, that some people thought it was real found footage. In the 90s, we had yet to see filmmaking of that type. It felt personal; like this could happen to anyone. The film generated $248 million, which is staggering compared to its budget of $1 million.
Following its success, Lionsgate released a wildly unpopular attempt at a sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000). The franchise then went stagnant until Adam Wingard, (The Guest, V/H/S, You’re Next), directed Blair Witch (2016). It told the story of James (James Allen McCune) who believed he found a video of his missing sister, Heather. James and his friends embark on a journey into the woods where the Blair Witch is rumored to live to find Heather. The film had a budget of about $5 million and grossed roughly $45 million worldwide. Its excitement came and went, and since then the franchise once again fell silent. That is, until now.
Lionsgate has not officially released news on the development of a new, and the report noted that they are not “tied” to the found-footage documentary style. That filmmaking technique was novel in 1999, but by now, some would argue that it’s overdone.
The article in The Ankler hinted that Lionsgate may want to have something set up to celebrate The Blair Witch Project’s 25th anniversary, which would indicate a release date near July 30, 2024. At this point, these whispers are all we can operate on. While a lot would need to happen for a film to be released by that deadline, it is possible. There is much to speculate: What story will it tell? Will it be a new take on the original characters? Will it be an entirely new story with the same protagonist? Although nothing is certain, this is some exciting news. I wonder what these called-for writers will bring to the table, and if this new film will be able to shoulder the weight of the original.