Blumhouse Productions is “director-driven,” as head honcho producer Jason Blum puts it, and he’s not wrong. The walls of the lobby in the Blumhouse headquarters are filled with photographs of every director the company has ever worked with including James Wan, Rob Zombie, Ciaran Foy, Peter Cromwell, and more. The only frame on the wall that doesn’t hold a photo is a single spot in the corner, almost identical to the rest, with the exception of a mirror in place of a picture. Blum says that every time he begins work with a new director, he places them in front of that mirror, and tells them that they’ll be the next one to make it to the wall.
In an industry where filmmakers often clash with the producers behind their projects, Blum’s approach to making movies is one that is very open and inspiring. For his next endeavor, Blum announced that he’ll be taking his beloved filmmakers in a different direction: a book division.
Although Blumhouse is known for its many genre films, including Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, and most recently, Ouija, the time has come for a new era, known as “Blumhouse Books”. Jason Blum announced his plans last night for a horror anthology novel, set to be released in July 2015, titled “The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City.”
A different filmmaker will write each story, with every story spanning about 20 pages, with 20 stories to each book. So far, “The Haunted City” is the only book announced, but success permitting, there will be many more in the future; as many as three per year. So far, Ethan Hawke, Eli Roth, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, James DeMonaco, and Christopher Denham have signed on to write original stories, with little to no guidelines other than the stories having to take place in the city.
Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the two main men behind 2012’s Sinister, read their short story, “Clean White Room,” at Blumhouse’s big reveal last night, and let me tell you, y’all are in for a treat.
When asked about their literary inspirations, Jason Blum, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill all gave relatively different answers. Blum cited In Cold Blood as the source of his Blumhouse Books idea, and even hinted at the possibility of one of the future horror anthologies focusing on true crime. Cargill named Stephen King and Clive Barker as major influences, and even went so far as to say that the DNA of all of his work is ingrained with their writing.
Derrickson’s tastes are a tad more distinguished, with names like H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood popping up, although he agreed that he, too, loves Stephen King, and is a big fan of Joe Hill’s work as well. At the mention of Joe Hill, Blum states that he’d love to have Hill contribute a piece of his own in one of the Blumhouse Books one day, as well as certain directors and actors he hasn’t worked with yet, meaning that you don’t have to have a previous partnership with Blumhouse in order to write for their novels.
Besides having some of the top names in horror working on this project, another exciting aspect of The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares is the contest Blumhouse is launching to find their final author for the book. Fans can submit their short fiction stories to Blumhouse in the hopes of winning a spot in the horror anthology. The top selections will be posted on the Blumhouse Books website for voting, and the writer who receives the most votes will have his or her entry included in the final hardback copy. The complete contest details are posted at www.blumhousebooks.com. With such limited guidelines and such a gigantic opportunity at hand, this contest provides an easy opportunity for writers to make their voices heard. Additional stories may be included in the digital version of the book.
There are no concrete plans for bundling Blumhouse films and books at the moment, but that’s something Blum says he wants to “play with that stuff for sure” in the future. For now, the production company simply plans to release the same amount of digital copies and print copies, and mainly seeks to make the novels available to as many people as possible.
Although Blum is open to the idea of making the films he has produced into books in the future, he remains firm about separating the two medias, at least initially. He feels very strongly about having anthologies with new stories. Blum explained how he approached every writer in the anthology with the promise that he has no real plans to make their short stories into movies or television shows, he simply wants original stories. The same goes for comic books, for now anyway. Blum admits that The Purge would be an excellent graphic novel, but insists on a mantra of “doing something and getting it going and established before you do something else.” It’s important to Blum to “really get [Blumhouse Books] up and running and going” before he begins linking his cinematic and literary worlds together, but adds that he might “eventually do that, but not any time soon.”
Doubleday and Vintage Books, part of the Penguin Random House, have announced their collaboration with Blumhouse Productions on this inaugural book. Doubleday Associate Editor Rob Bloom will edit the collection of stories. Nick Simonds will oversee the imprint for Blumhouse as Director of Publishing. Doubleday Publisher William Thomas and Vintage Executive Editor Edward Kastenmeier secured the rights from Creative Artists Agency. Together, the companies hope to ignite a successful multi-title, multi-format publishing program, an exciting venture into a relatively untapped area of the horror genre. I wish them all the best of luck, and look forward to the future of Blumhouse Productions.