Blumhouse And James Wan's Atomic Monster Might Merge - Here's Why That's Huge For Horror [UPDATE]

[UPDATE: According to a post on X/Twitter by Blumhouse head Jason Blum, the merger deal was announced on January 2, 2024. "Our deal is .... Done. Blumhouse and Atomic Monster have officially joined forces. The preeminent homes for horror are now under one roof." The original article follows.]

The horror world had a bombshell dropped on it recently when it was revealed that Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions and James Wan's Atomic Monster are looking to join forces. Indeed, the house that "Paranormal Activity" built and the production company founded by the guy who made "The Conjuring" universe happen (among many other things) are in advanced merger talks. Should this come to pass, it would have major implications for genre filmmaking for years to come.

The New York Times initially broke the news and, though no deal is done yet, it sounds very much like we're headed in that direction. Should the deal close, Blum and Wan's companies would be under the same roof. Blum would keep a controlling stake in Blumhouse, while Wan would end up with a significant stake alongside NBCUniversal, who also has skin in the game. Most importantly, Atomic Monster would continue to operate as an independent entity within the larger Blumhouse business. In other words, one of the most prolific producers of our time and one of the most successful genre filmmakers ever would be under the same roof, united with a common goal.

Blum, for all of his successes (and there have been many), is not a creative producer by his own admission. He's a fantastic businessman. Wan, the director of "Saw" and "Insidious," both of which spawned massive franchises, is a visionary. We're also talking about the guy who directed "Aquaman" and "Furious 7," two of literally the biggest movies of all time. They complement one another well and, with their forces combined, who knows what might be possible? But let's go over what we know for sure and try to guess what this world might look like, shall we?

A more complete puzzle

Blum is a man who has impacted horror fans even if they don't know his name. "The Purge," the recent "Halloween" trilogy, M. Night Shyamalan's comeback with "The Visit" and "Split," "Sinister," "Happy Death Day," and so many others, all flowed through Blumhouse. The company has literally generated more than $5 billion at the box office against budgets totaling less than a tenth of that. Blum's whole thing is to make movies on the cheap, but give filmmakers a lot of latitude, and good things can happen. "Get Out" might be the best example of this working on every level.

Wan, meanwhile, is an idea man who has directed tons of hits but, most importantly, generates franchises from his ideas. "The Conjuring" is not only one of the best horror films of the last decade but spawned arguably the most successful cinematic universe outside of Marvel. This is a guy who – both as a producer and director – can do both originals and maximize IP to win on both fronts. They complete each other.

"James is probably 70 to 80 percent artist and 30 to 20 percent business person, and I am the reverse," Blum said in the NYT piece. The fact that Blum and Wan went on record in the piece indicates this deal is almost assuredly happening. Blum also added, "I don't have one idea to turn into a horror movie. Not one. I built a business by recognizing great ideas from other people." That's where Wan comes in. "I have so many ideas — so many ideas — more than I can handle by myself," Wan said. The producer and the idea man.

Maybe even better than a bunch of superheroes

One thing has been true for some time: superheroes and horror are the only somewhat sure bets Hollywood has right now. Yes, Marvel movies like "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" or DC films like "The Batman" can be counted on to put meat in seats. But let's not forget that Blumhouse's "The Black Phone" is one of the biggest original horror hits of the year, and that Paramount may have saved the late September/early October box office with "Smile." Horror is the under-appreciated king that almost always delivers.

Universal has a first-look deal with Blumhouse and that has benefited them greatly over the years. Blumhouse is about as reliable as it gets and, fortunately, even when they miss, it's not the end of the world. Again, Blum's whole thing is to do it cheaply to mitigate risk. Wan has, for his part, delivered horror hits any studio would dream of. Lionsgate has lived on "Saw" now for nearly 20 years. Plus, Wan and Blum both scored an early hit together with "Insidious," a franchise that has a fifth installment on the way next year. Even Wan's relative misses, like "Malignant," managed to generate more online chatter than certain blockbusters and seemed to do quite well on streaming.

All of this to say, having the combined might and skill sets of Blumhouse and Atomic Monster opens the floodgates of possibility. Universal has that deal with Blumhouse through 2024. Just imagine what could be done with these two working together. They're not limited by the IP controlled by a studio. Marvel has its limits (and those movies are expensive!), but Blum and Wan can make anything they can dream up together. That's the key. That may generate less revenue per film, but in the long run, it could be a better backbone than relying on superheroes for a major studio.

A huge loss for Warner Bros.

So yes, looking at it all laid out on the table, the combined might of Blumhouse and Atomic Monster seems ridiculously attractive for the business-minded. And, let's be very clear, these guys make a lot of good movies, so this, in turn, is going to be great for fans of genre filmmaking as well. No two ways about it. But the big, underlying implication, is that Blumhouse/Universal's gain is Warner Bros. Discovery's loss.

Wan made "Aquaman," the highest-grossing DC movie ever, at Warner Bros. He made "The Conjuring" and "The Conjuring 2," while producing the rest of the spin-offs in that universe. He produced an original hit in "Lights Out" for the studio. He's one of their golden geese, one who is currently finishing "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," we should add. So his work with WBD isn't done but, when this deal with Blumouse closes, his time will surely be occupied at Atomic Monster.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is a guy who has not made friends with filmmakers after making big decisions to cancel movies like "Batgirl" and remove tons of titles from HBO Max without notice. Is that why Wan might be considering a new home? Let's not speculate recklessly but, no matter what the case, this deal would be a loss for Warner Bros., not two ways about it. But the future's calling, and it's a seemingly bright one for horror lovers of the world.