25 Years Later, Blair Witch Stars Say They Were Cheated, Barely Made Money From The Massive Hit

The stars of the iconic 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project spoke up about how they were cheated out of getting the profits they deserved from what became one of the most profitable independent films of all time.

Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams lent their real names to the film and played fictionalized versions of themselves in the movie for a $500-a-week paycheck. The film’s shooting went on for eight days.

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After being made with a $35,000 budget, the movie grossed a mammoth-sized $248 million worldwide and led to two film franchises. Yet, the windfall never arrived for the three actors, who struggled to pay rent and pay for groceries after the movie’s release.

Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams said they barely got a taste of the massive profits made by the movie The Blair Witch Project

Image credits: Lionsgate Horror / Twitter

“I’m embarrassed that I let this happen to me,” a teary-eyed Michael told Variety.

“You’ve got to put that stuff away, because you’re a f—ing loser if you can’t,” he continued. “Because everybody’s wondering what happened, and your wife is in the grocery line and she can’t pay because a check bounced. You’re in the most successful independent movie of all time, and you can’t take care of your loved ones.”

Immediately after the release of the movie, the three actors were forced to keep a low profile to convince the world that they were indeed missing, as the movie plot suggested. The film saw massive success at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, yet the same year, Heather found herself still driving around in a beat-up car that broke down right under a billboard with her face on it.

The actors had to keep a low profile and pretend they were dead or missing to keep up with the marketing tactics of the film

Michael was still working as a furniture mover that year because he couldn’t land other jobs while pretending to be dead or missing for the movie’s marketing.

Things weren’t great for Joshua, who recalled taking up a catering gig that year and having to serve food to his agent.

“My agent asked me what the f— I was doing,” he said. “I said, ‘You know that I haven’t made any money.’ We were all struggling to pay the rent.”

The film was acquired at Sundance by Artisan Entertainment for $1.1 million, and they banned the actors from appearing at the Cannes Film Festival in May of that same year or even participating in interviews to maintain the illusion that the actors were missing.

When the film broke $100 million at the domestic box office, the actors received a fruit basket from Artisan.

“That was when it became clear that, wow, we were not going to get anything,” Heather said. “We were being cut out of something that we were intimately involved with creating.”

“My agent asked me what the f— I was doing,” he said. “I said, ‘You know that I haven’t made any money.’ We were all struggling to pay the rent,” Joshua Leonard said

In 2000, Donahue, Leonard, and Williams jointly sued Artisan amid the release of the sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. They reached a settlement about four years later of around $300,000 each, which was to be paid out over the span of several years.

Lionsgate, which acquired Artisan in 2003, continued profiting from the actors’ names and faces, which were used for marketing the original movie and new, profitable sequels.

This year, Lionsgate also announced that they were producing a reboot of The Blair Witch Project.

The directors and producers of the movie provided a joint statement to Variety: “25 years later, who would have thought we’d still be talking about ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ a film made by a group of total Hollywood outsiders? We’re hopeful Heather, Joshua and Mike find a satisfying conclusion to their conversations with Lionsgate. For us, this anniversary provides an exciting opportunity to celebrate the movie and its legacy with fans.”

The post 25 Years Later, Blair Witch Stars Say They Were Cheated, Barely Made Money From The Massive Hit first appeared on Bored Panda.
Source: boredpanda.com

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