Scream Horror Magazine

“BLAIR WITCH” DISCOURSE CONTINUES AS MORE VOICES JOIN THE CALL FOR RECOGNITION IN OPEN LETTERS

Posted on: May 2nd, 2024

Last week, we reported the vocal opposition of some involved with 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, following the announcement of a fresh reboot.

Initially, production designer Ben Rock and actor Joshua Leonard voiced their dissatisfaction at the fact the studio continues to profit whilst the original filmmakers receive nothing. Now, more voices have joined the chorus, with fellow actors Heather Donahue and Michael Williams issuing an open letter to Lionsgate alongside Leonard.

In the statement, the cast make clear a list of demands they feel are adequate compensation for the studio freely using their likeness for so many years.

In part, the former cast-mates are seeking:
“1. Retroactive + future residual payments to Heather, Michael and Josh for acting services rendered in the original BWP, equivalent to the sum that would’ve been allotted through SAG-AFTRA, had we had proper union or legal representation when the film was made.

2. Meaningful consultation on any future Blair Witch reboot, sequel, prequel, toy, game, ride, escape room, etc…, in which one could reasonably assume that Heather, Michael & Josh’s names and/or likenesses will be associated for promotional purposes in the public sphere.”

The cast conclude their statement by pointing out that neither Blair Witch sequel was a success, and in continuing to profit from the original via video games and rides, they are equivalent to an “unutilized secret weapon.”

Lionsgate have yet to respond publicly, however, Leonard has published private messages via Instagram showing a PR team have been in touch.

Despite initially remaining silent, Blair Witch creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez have since issued as statement supporting their former cast. The filmmakers say in part:

“While we, the original filmmakers, respect Lionsgate’s right to monetize the intellectual property as it sees fit, we must highlight the significant contributions of the original cast — Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Mike Williams,” they say in the statement. “As the literal faces of what has become a franchise, their likenesses, voices, and real names are inseparably tied to ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ Their unique contributions not only defined the film’s authenticity but continue to resonate with audiences around the world.”

So, it seems things have heated up quite significantly, and this isn’t going away, despite how much Lionsgate may want it to. How will this all pan out? We’ll be sure to let you know.

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