Blair Witch Project star says new Blumhouse film shows “disrespect” to original cast/crew

Original The Blair Witch Project star Joshua Leonard isn’t happy that the studios are profiting off of the 1999 indie blockbuster.

Last Updated on April 17, 2024

Blair Witch

The Blair Witch Project was a movie that should have been left alone. But such insanely successful films rarely are, with the ultra-indie movie going on to spawn everything from inevitable sequels to tie-in comic books to, yes, video games. Add to that now a “reimagining” courtesy of Blumhouse, which hasn’t exactly been a well received idea from fans – or stars – of the 1999 horror blockbuster.

Joshua Leonard – one of the three stars of The Blair Witch Project, along with Heather Donahue and Michael Williams – is now speaking out against the planned movie (a Lionsgate co-production), particularly as it relates to how the original cast is treated. Linking to a piece in Variety about the Blumhouse venture, Leonard wrote, in part: “The WEIRD PART [about his likeness being used in the press] is that I didn’t know anything about it until a friend sent me a ‘congrats’ screenshot yesterday. My frustration is compounded b/c I’ve been trying to get @lionsgate to engage for over a month about a BWP charity screening I’m putting together for @opositivefest to raise money for artists without healthcare, and NO ONE will get back to me.” He added that “it’s 25 years of disrespect from the folks who’ve pocketed the lion’s share (pun intended) of the profits from OUR work, and that feels both icky and classless.”

It should be noted that Leonard has subsequently heard back from Lionsgate since the ordeal started gaining traction, but the actor is not ready to go down without making his point. Prior to this, Leonard would go on to rattle off several examples of how the studio has ensured that he and his co-stars are not being financially compensated for The Blair Witch Project, which had an original budget of no more than $60,000 but would take in nearly $250 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable films ever. Still, he doesn’t think that even if he wanted to pursue legal action that he would stand a chance. At the same time, Leonard also maintains that his position isn’t about money but rather “human decency”, saying more respect should be given to “the craftspeople off who’s backs corporations make their profits.”

As this new Blair Witch movie moves forward from Blumhouse and Lionsgate, they may find Leonard building support for his case, something we are already seeing. And going off of his words, he could have a case here in his attempt to not only stand up for the original The Blair Witch Project cast – who has had previous legal battles regarding how their likenesses were used in subsequent movies – but any other creatives who have found themselves in such a situation.

What do you make of Joshua Leonard’s statement about the forthcoming The Blair Witch Project movie? What responsibilities do the studios hold in terms of compensation?

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.