Seventeen years ago, first-time directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez released a film that changed the game. Released in 1999, “The Blair Witch Project” captivated audiences with its found footage style and viral marketing that had viewers questioning if what they saw was real.
The movie went on to become one of the most successful independent films of all time and inspired a number of movies that would follow. Nearly two decades later, a direct sequel to the film, “Blair Witch,” is releasing on Sept. 16. Before you watch “Blair Witch,” here are seven things you didn’t know about the original film:
Was It Based On A True Story?
When “The Blair Witch” was released many viewers believed the story was based on a true story, but the whole plot was created by directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. A backstory for the film was provided in a 1999 SciFi Channel mockumentary called “The Curse of the Blair Witch” which furthered the idea that the movie was real.
Many reactions In The film Are Real
To add to the effect of being a found-footage film, many parts of the film were real. The three main actors in the film all believed the Blair Witch legend was real. It was only after the film’s release did they discover that it was made up. In the scene where the actors walk south all day and end up in the same spot, this actually wasn’t planned. The actors were genuinely mad about their mistake. Another scene, which involved the actor’s tent being shaken, was unscripted. The director shook the tent.
It Was One Of The First Films To Use Viral Marketing.
To this day, many films still use viral marketing to promote the movie (“Cloverfield,” “Super 8”) but none have been as successful as “The Blair Witch Project’s” campaign. Part of the marketing campaign’s success can be credited to the fact that the internet was still young and found footage films weren’t popular yet. The creators of the film made a website that featured missing people posters, police reports and evidence related to the Blair Witch.
How Much Did “The Blair Witch Project” Cost?
Initial production on the film was between $20,000 and $25,000 but that figure grew substantially after the studio did post-production. The film ended up costing between $500,000 and $750,000. The studio then spent $25 million marketing the movie.
How Much Did “The Blair Witch Project” Make?
While the production budget grew from its original budget, the film went on to earn nine times its final budget. “The Blair Witch Project” grossed nearly $250 million worldwide.
It Inspired Future Found Footage Films.
Although “The Blair Witch Project” didn’t invent found footage films (1980’s “Cannibal Holocaust” is an early example), it did inspire a trend that is still present in Hollywood today with movies such as 2007’s “Paranormal Activity,” 2008’s “Cloverfield” and 2012’s “Project X.”
Only One Of The Main Cast Members Still Acts.
Heather Donahue is now a medical marijuana grower and author. Michael Williams had a job as a furniture mover on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Joshua Leonard has appeared in “Bates Motel,” “If I Stay” and “The United States of Tara.”
The Blair Witch Was Supposed To Be Shown.
The film is famous for never actually showing the main protagonist of the film but it wasn’t planned like that. In one of scenes where the characters run out of their tent, a cameraman was supposed to pan to the left to reveal a woman in a white gown but the cameraman forgot to pan. The scene was never reshot.