The Blair Witch Project was such a phenomenon when it came out that no one really knew how to react to its success. Hollywood wasn’t sure if it could replicate it, which is why you didn’t see it get a new sequel every year. Not even cowriter/director Eduardo Sánchez had any real idea of what a post-Blair Witch career should look like for him.
Sánchez stepped away from the industry for a few years, and as you can see from the below part of our interview with him, Blair Witch’s success didn’t necessarily make it easier for him within the studio system. So he opted to make more horror movies on his own using the money he made off of Blair Witch, and they’re actually some of the better indie genre movies of the last decade. Altered, in particular, is a fantastic, original sci-fi movie, Lovely Molly is deeply disturbing, and his latest film Exists is an energetic, highly entertaining, badass Bigfoot movie.
Sánchez is also starting to dip his toes into the world of television. He directed this week’s episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (the first in the season that Robert Rodriguez didn’t direct), which gave us the opportunity to hop on the phone with him and talk about his career. We’ve saved most of the talk for tomorrow, but before then we wanted to ask Sánchez about the legacy of The Blair Witch Project and its seemingly inevitable return.
Movies.com: What are your thoughts on the current state of found footage and why did it take so long to catch on after you blew it up?
Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, I don’t know man. That’s an observation I’ve talked to a lot of people about. There were other found-footage movies, but when Cloverfield did its thing there were a whole bunch of them afterward. I think a lot of people, including us, just didn’t know. We never imagined doing another Blair Witch found-footage movie. Our plan for the sequel is definitely not doing a found-footage movie. It took a while for people to just figure out what Blair had done; I’m not sure why. The film was so experimental and kind of came out of nowhere so people didn’t know what to think of it and weren’t sure if that style could be repeated.
Movies.com: Since you just sold Exists to Lionsgate, which was a major player in Blair Witch’s home video life, has the studio already been knocking down your door about a new one?
Sánchez: You know, Lionsgate owns the property, so it’s obviously up to them right now. We’ve been talking to them for the past four or five years about doing it, but there’s nothing really in the works right now with us. But I think you’re right and maybe just being back at Lionsgate will help move things forward on another Blair Witch movie.
Movies.com: You made a nice chunk of change off of Blair Witch, and then you used that to create Haxan Films and make some great movies on your own. Did you ever try to engage the studio system, do the whole remake thing, or was the indie route always your plan?
Sánchez: It isn’t totally by choice. We’re talking to someone every few months at the studio level. My agent puts me up for a lot of jobs, some of them remakes, some of them other scripts out there. It just hasn’t worked out up until now. It works for others, but it’s so foreign to the way we work. Honestly, it’s a little scary to give that much control of your creative process to people you’ve never really worked with before.
There are some great executives out there that we have hooked up with over the years, and I think it’s just a matter of time before we’re finding the right project. Going down the studio road is something we’ll eventually do, but you’re absolutely right. Blair Witch made a pretty good chunk of change and we didn’t need to go down that road. We didn’t need to do anything, we didn’t even have to make another movie for awhile. Part of it was good. It was good to kind of retire for a little while and just chill out, but part of it was bad because getting back into it was difficult. Even if you have had success, they don’t take you as seriously when you try to come back. The one-hit-wonder thing gets used a lot. But we like where we’re at and we’re happy with the films we’ve made, and we’re happy to go into the television phase of the company’s career.
Look for more of our chat with Eduardo Sánchez tomorrow, and be sure to catch his episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series when it airs March 25 at 9 p.m. EST on El Rey Network.
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