Jason Blum and James Wan merge horror empires
The Future. Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions and James Wan’s Atomic Monster are in talks to join forces, creating what will inarguably be the biggest horror producer in the world. With Blumhouse bringing in $5 billion in ticket sales over the past several years and Atomic Monster’s horror output generating $3.5 billion, the combined entity seems destined to be a hit factory for Universal Pictures… right at a time when the theatrical industry needs them most.
Universal’s horror world
Two of the biggest names in horror are joining forces.
- According to NYT, Blumhouse and Atomic Monster are in discussions to merge under a deal with Universal Pictures (where Blumhouse already enjoys a long, lucrative deal).
- The merger would allow Wan’s Atomic Monster (which is behind The Conjuring universe and the Aquaman franchise) to exist as an autonomously creative brand within Blumhouse.
- And for Blumhouse, it gives the leading horror label a shot in the arm to double their theatrical output from roughly four to at least eight films annually.
- The team also plans to potentially make a slate of films for Peacock, bolster its TV output, and expand into video games, audio, and live entertainment.
The deal — which an inside source says will give Wan a major ownership stake in Blumhouse — is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. That’ll be on the heels of the duo’s latest film, M3GAN, likely being a hit for Universal (it comes out January 6, and sequel talks are already underway).
Scaring up the box office
The merger couldn’t come at a better time for Hollywood, which is finding that horror is basically the only genre — outside of superheroes — that is routinely working at the box office post-COVID.
- Universal scored a huge hit this summer with The Black Phone, which made over $100 million after just three weeks of release.
- 20th Century’s Barbarian became a word-of-mouth phenomenon in September, adding theaters and making more money as the weeks went on.
- Paramount’s Smile has surpassed all expectations and made over $200 million — a big win for a movie that was slated to go directly to Paramount+ before great test screening scores bumped it up to theatrical.
- And on the indie front, Ti West’s surprise horror franchise — X, Pearl, and the upcoming Maxxxine — has already become a success story for A24.
In the wake of the success, every studio is doubling down on horror, lured by the potential of low-budget projects (most horror movies are made for under $20 million, and at Blumhouse, under $5 million) that can bring outsized returns.
Even Walter Hamada, who just left his post running DC at Warner Bros., inked a producing deal at Paramount to shape its horror slate. Talk about a vibe shift.