‘Us’ and ‘BlacKkKlansman’ producer Jason Blum’s plan to take over Hollywood is simple: stay independent

Jason Blum.

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Jason Blum.
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Blumhouse

  • Producer Jason Blum is one of Business Insider’s “100 people transforming business.”
  • His production company, Blumhouse Productions, is responsible for some of the most profitable horror movies in the last decade, including recent hits “Glass” and “Us.”
  • “The goal is to be independent so we can tell stories we want to tell without asking permission,” Blum told Business Insider. “Happily, as each year goes by we get closer and closer to that.”
  • Blumhouse is currently developing the limited series for Showtime on Fox News head Roger Ailes, starring Russell Crowe, and is in production on eight movies for Amazon Prime.
  • See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.

The rise of Jason Blum and his company, Blumhouse Productions, is one of the best underdog stories to come out of Hollywood in the last decade.

The producer began by pushing his way into the studio system by feeding it ultra-low-budget horror titles that resulted in huge box-office returns, like the “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” franchises. Now he’s become one of the most bankable players in the business.

Whether it is “The Purge” or bringing the “Halloween” franchise back with the 2018 reboot, if a movie has the Blumhouse logo on it that means two things: It’s made with a quality that goes far beyond its budget, and the movie is going to make at least double at the box office what it was made for (and sometimes a lot more than that).

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“Paranormal Activity.”
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Blumhouse

The industry can’t deny Blum has a magic touch. To date, his movies have made more than $4 billion worldwide (many of them released through Universal, which has a first-look deal with Blumhouse). That’s an astounding figure given that the movies he makes are often original stories with budgets between $6 million to $20 million (the higher figure is rare).

And because the numbers speak for themselves, Blum now has a freedom in Hollywood that only few producers get.

“The goal is to be independent so we can tell stories we want to tell without asking permission,” Blum, who was named one of our 100 people transforming business, told Business Insider recently. “Happily, as each year goes by we get closer and closer to that.”

And as the years go by, Blum has only expanded his empire.

When M. Night Shyamalan wanted to go back to making horror movies following the disastrous response to 2013’s “After Earth,” he turned to Blumhouse. First he made the faux-documentary thriller, “The Visit,” then sneakily launched an “Unbreakable” franchise with box office hits “Split” and “Glass.”

Jordan Peele also teamed with Blum when he put on the directing hat, and it’s led to a historic collaboration. Peele’s “Get Out” and “Us” were critical and box-office sensations. Peele became the first black screenwriter ever to win an Oscar for original screenplay with “Get Out,” and “Us” had the biggest opening weekend ever for an original horror movie.

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“Us.”
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Universal

And Spike Lee finally got an Oscar with a best adapted screenplay win for “BlacKkKlansman,” a movie Blum produced.

But looking forward, Blum is shifting with the times. As TV and streaming are becoming more prevalent in the industry, he wants Blumhouse to be front and center.

Blumhouse Television is hard at work developing, as Blum puts it, “different kinds of things” compared to the movie side. There’s the Joshua Green book, “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” that’s being made into a limited series. The book delves into how Trump and Bannon teamed up to pull off the upset win by Trump in the 2016 election. Blumhouse is also producing the Showtime limited series, “The Loudest Voice,” which looks at Fox New founder Roger Ailes and the sexual harassment allegations that led to him leaving the network. Russell Crowe plays Ailes.

Read more: “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins knows fighting for her own equal pay helps other women in Hollywood

On the streaming side, Blum has put together a deal with Amazon that is a first for the internet giant. It has greenlit Blumhouse to make eight movies for its Amazon Prime service. Blum said they will all be thrillers, and will have a theme that ties them together. The movies are still in development, but he said they will be directed by diverse filmmakers.

“We choose things are aren’t down the middle,” Blum said when asked what has made Blumhouse successful. “From ‘Halloween’ to ‘Us’ to the TV projects, the more independent we are, the more that decision making has allowed us to flourish.”