Blumhouse Productions, the company behind hit horror movies like Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge, have launched a brand new company, Blumhouse Books. The first title they will be releasing is The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City, a horror anthology featuring 10-25-page stories from renowned genre talent like Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill (Sinister), Eli Roth (South of Hell, Hostel), James DeMonaco (The Purge) and Ethan Hawke to make up a total of 19 stories with one slot still open for a potential fan contribution.
The inaugural book will be released in July 2015 on all platforms at once including hardcover, paperback and ebook forms with the ebook potentially having additional stories not included in the print editions. Nerdist sat down with Jason Blum, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill at the Blumhouse offices in Los Angeles to learn more about the project and what the future holds for Blumhouse Books.
THE FIRST TITLE
Blumhouse founder Jason Blum wasted no time explaining his new project to us on All Hallow’s Eve eve, explaining the first title from Blumhouse Books to us. “The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City is a horror anthology and, as I’m sure most of you guys know, most every horror anthology that’s been done by a Hollywood person, it’s more of a curated thing. Someone picks their favorite 10 or 15 stories that have already been published and puts them together in a book, which is cool, but ours is cooler.”
Blum continued, “All the stories are original. We went to most of the people we’ve worked with and made movies with like Scott Derrickson and [C. Robert] Cargill back here, who wrote and directed Sinister and a gazillion other movies you guys know, and we asked them two write a scary story and the only creative parameters we asked them to work in was we asked that it had something to do with a city. The reason we chose a city is because most of our movies take place in the suburbs and most scary movies take place in the suburbs or the country and I feel like the city is something you don’t often see. …There are very few scary stories set in cities so I thought that would be a cool way to have a cool jumping off point. Ethan Hawke wrote one and Eli Roth wrote one and they’re really great and that’s what we’re here to talk about.”
The inevitable question that anyone would have is does Blum have intentions of turning these literary properties into movies? The answer is a firm “no” as Blumhouse Books has elected to give the short story authors all movie and TV rights to do with what they will. The Emmy winning producer explained, “I didn’t want to muddy that with the writers because those deals would have been much harder to do so all of the writers control their own content and they have all the movie and TV rights, we don’t have any of that stuff, we just have the rights to publish the stories but that is not why we’re doing this, but it would certainly be a happy outcome. I didn’t do a horror anthology to find material to make into movies and TV but if something happened like that it would be totally cool.”
Blum elaborated saying, “I don’t have a first look, I don’t have any attachment, nothing like that at all, so that made it easier [to approach movie talent] but yeah, it’s a weird thing to do. These guys [Derrickson and Cargill] were awesome and stepped up and Eli Roth was really early on was like, ‘This is so fun, I’m really psyched to do this!’ And Ethan [Hawke] and once we got those three people, we got the rest of the people. James Wan and Leigh Whannell did NOT do one, this is on the record. The only two in the Blumhouse family who said no to us [laughs] so I’m calling them out on that.”
Regarding the inclusion of a fan submission, what could Blum tell us about that? “There’s one slot open and we wanted to differentiate between the book and the ebook so we might do four in the ebook and one in the book, we might do five in the ebook an none in the book. We wanted to leave it open because we might add more in the printed vs. the non-printed edition. That’s the idea.”
THE FUTURE OF BLUMHOUSE BOOKS
Even though Blum isn’t particularly interested in adapting the Blumhouse Books content for film and television, do they have an interest in expanding already existing universes? “We talked about that too, especially with The Purge,” said Blum, excitedly. “We talked a lot about that and yes, I’d like to in some cases do novelizations of the movies, for sure, through this label.” He elaborated, saying, “Novelizations of the movies, new stories, maybe – it gets tricky with rights when you are still making sequels but we’ve talked about that too. Specs and Tucker [from Insidious] would be kind of fun.” How about graphic novels of their already existing properties like The Purge? “It would be a great graphic novel. I’ve thought about it but I don’t think it’s something I would do soon…”
I asked Blum about going into YA horror, something that would seem like a given considering the financial success of Ouija earlier this month. “Definitely we would venture into that but I think at least for the beginning, for the first few years that we do this, stay on brand in terms of making sure that it’s genre but if it’s like Ouija, genre for younger people, I’d be totally into that, I wouldn’t do a non-fiction book or a drama or a comedy or whatever [just yet].” Cargill chimed in saying that for now, especially with their first release The Haunted City, the authors were told to go hard into the horror. “With this book in particular, you guys gave us the, ‘Look, go crazy. Go nuts, do all the things that the MPAA would never let you get away with, just make it scary.’”
For more on Blumhouse Books, including rules for entering to have your short story included in the first title, visit www.BlumhouseBooks.com. The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City is expected to be released in July 2015 from Blumhouse Books, Doubleday and Vintage Books.