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Original ‘Blair Witch’ Cast Asks Lionsgate for Retrospective Remnants and Consultation on Future Projects

The stars of The Blair Witch Project have made a public proposal to Lionsgate after the studio recently announced a partnership with Blumhouse for a reboot of the 1999 horror sensation.

Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams wrote in a statement on Saturday that they are asking Lionsgate for retroactive and future residual payments, “meaningfully discussing” any future payments. Blair Witch projects and a $60,000 annual grant for “an unknown/aspiring genre filmmaker to help make their first feature film.”

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“Our film has been rebooted twice now, both times were a disappointment from a fan/box office/critical perspective,” they wrote in part. “None of these films were made with significant creative input from the original team. Like the insiders who Blair Witch and we have been listening to what fans love and want for 25 years, we are your biggest, yet unused secret weapon!”

The trio’s post also included a statement from the 1999 directors and producers The Blair Witch Projectincluding Eduardo Sánchez, Dan Myrick, Gregg Hole, Robin Cowie and Michael Monello.

“While we, the original filmmakers, respect Lionsgate’s right to monetize its intellectual property as it sees fit, we must highlight the important contributions of the original cast – Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Mike Williams,” the statement said. “As the literal faces of what has become a franchise, their likenesses, voices and real names are inextricably linked The Blair Witch Project. Their unique contributions not only defined the authenticity of the film, but also continue to resonate with audiences around the world.”

The statement continued: “We celebrate the legacy of our film, and we also believe the actors deserve to be celebrated for their continued association with the franchise.

A Lionsgate spokesperson had no comment.

The Blair Witch Project was initially released by Artisan Entertainment in 1999, which Lionsgate acquired in December 2003. Lionsgate did not produce or distribute the original film.

Earlier this week, Leonard was among the cast and crew members of the original film who shared their frustrations over their lack of involvement in the future of the series. “I’m so proud of our little punk rock movie, and I love the fans who keep the flames burning,” Leonard wrote on Instagram. “But right now, it’s 25 years of disrespect from the people who pocketed the lion’s share of the profits from OUR work, and it feels both dirty and classless.”

The full statement from Donahue, Leonard and Williams follows.

“OUR QUESTIONS FOR LIONSGATE (from Heather, Michael & Josh, stars of The Blair Witch Project):

1. Retroactive + future remaining payments to Heather, Michael and Josh for acting services provided in the original BWP, equal to the amount that would have been allocated through SAG-AFTRA, had we had proper union or legal representation when the film was created .

2. Meaningful discussion regarding a future Blair Witch reboot, sequel, prequel, toy, game, ride, escape room, etc… where it is reasonable to assume that the names and/or likenesses of Heather, Michael and Josh will be used associated for promotional purposes in the public sphere.

Note: Our film has been rebooted twice now, both times being a disappointment from a fan/box office/critical perspective. None of these films were made with significant creative input from the original team. As the insiders who created The Blair Witch and have been listening to what fans like and want for 25 years, we are your greatest, yet untapped secret weapon!

3. “The Blair Witch Grant”: A grant of 60,000 (the budget of our original film), paid out annually by @lionsgate, to an unknown/aspiring genre filmmaker to help make their first feature film. This is a GRANT, not a development fund, and therefore @lionsgate will not own any of the underlying rights to the project.”

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