Blockbusters on an indie budget

Blockbusters on an indie budget

Jason Blum is a rarity in Hollywood - the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions has pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking by producing high-quality micro-budget films for wide release.

His latest, The Purge, which is now playing in Singapore, cost just US$3m (S$3.8m) to make but has gone on to gross about US$85m worldwide so far.

The thriller stars Blum's close friend of more than two decades, Ethan Hawke, who slept on the producer's couch and worked for next to nothing, in exchange for a cut of the box office takings.

The idea was conceived from the phenomenal success of 2007's Paranormal Activity, the CCTV-styled horror film that Blum made for US$15,000 but raked in close to US$200m globally. It convinced the 44-year-old that this highly cost-effective business model was a viable one and became his modus operandi.

There's no looking back since; in the past two years alone, Blumhouse has produced five films that outgrossed their budgets on opening weekend.

"This is our only business and we're very disciplined about sticking strictly to the model," says Blum, over the phone from Los Angeles. "I've had a lot of practice... I worked on low-budget films that nobody saw."

But he adds what he's doing now comes from a combination of his previous experience working for a major studio and his passion for stories with big concepts that are easy to market to the masses.

"It's like I'm making half an indie movie," he says.

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