Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
In the past five years, if a small budget horror movie came out and made untold millions, odds are Jason Blum produced it. Blum is the force behind Blumhouse Productions, a production company who has a hand in the Paranormal Activity and Insidious franchises, as well as Sinister, The Purge and others. It’s the place to be for small budget, weird-ass movies.
Speaking of small budget, weird-ass movies, Kevin Smith recently wrote a column at the Hollywood Reporter about Tusk. Tusk is Smith’s likely next film, a horrific take on an Internet ad where an older man wants a lodger to dress as a human seal. He has Michael Parks and Justin Long attached to star.
Jason Blum was going to produce the film but, after working together for a weeks, Smith decided to mutually part ways with Blum in order to get the film done faster than the producer wanted to.
Smith wrote a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter where he details all of this. Here’s the pertinent except.
The long story short is this: On Aug. 5 (about two weeks after I posted the first TUSK blog), the e-mails and the phone calls from Blumhouse started slowing to a crawl. That weekend, I could feel the ice cracking below my enormous girth as I waited for some sign of life for our little walrus picture. On Monday, I got a couple of e-mails that were bullets to the head of the Sundance 2014 #WalrusYes vision quest: Turns out Jason wanted to wait ‘til January to start shooting — a start date that was based on the availability of an actor he felt was commercially appealing enough to get an audience to come see a walrus picture. It was disappointing, but Jason wasn’t saying no; he was saying yes to January. With a star.
But to suddenly delay TUSK when momentum was on our side? While that is always the absolute right of the entity funding the flick, it was counter to what I was trying to accomplish with a punk-rock production of TUSK. Making the project dependent on casting arbitrary box-office bait seemed completely disloyal to the spirit with which TUSK was conceived and turned into a screenplay. This was meant to be a punk-rock movie, pulled together with spit, glue and passion. Waiting for a “star” makes sense for a studio movie, but not for a $2 or $3 million dollar horror flick. For a film of this size and scope, casting should be done based on who’s right for the part, not who’ll sell the most tickets. Besides, I imagine the eventual ticket sales generator of TUSK will likely be the audience’s desire to see what a human-walrus movie actually looks like.
So I thanked Jason Blum for his interest but told him I had to try for Sundance in January — and that was tough, because Blumhouse has a pretty stellar track record lately. Jason Blum wrote that he understood and told me to come back if I couldn’t make the movie happen elsewhere.
There’s much, much more in the column so I urge you to head over there and read it.
Smith was eventually able to get some financing, and even looked into putting a second mortgage on his house and dipping into his own savings. But just as things were going well, something else happened. Something Smith doesn’t reveal in the Hollywood Reporter blog. Once that gets published, we’ll write more, but it doesn’t sound like Tusk will be ready for Sundance 2014 after all. Maybe Smith will go back to Blum and Tusk will get a major release. I doubt it, but time will tell.
Do you think Smith made the right decision passing on Blum?