The new Halloween film has stirred up so much enthusiasm, not only by wiping the sequel slate clean but by setting up an epic Michael-Laurie battle, that it’s currently tracking for a franchise-best opening weekend. Our own Vince Mancini calls the movie a solid homage (but maybe too tasteful?) to John Carpenter’s 1978 original film, so all around, it looks like Blumhouse Productions has yet another hit on its hands.
Blum and friends can seemingly do no wrong with their cost-effective ways, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed that none of the dozens of Blumhouse Production films (since 2007) have been directed by a woman. That factoid stands out while Blum is promoting Halloween as a “women’s empowerment” film, but in an interview with Polygon, the powerhouse producer explained that there simply aren’t many female directors, nor do they want his offered gigs:
“There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror,” Blum says. “I’m a massive admirer of [The Babadook director] Jennifer Kent. I’ve offered her every movie we’ve had available. She’s turned me down every time.” (Kent was not available for comment at the time of publication.)
Jennifer Kent’s IMDb page isn’t exactly stuffed to the gills, but perhaps she has reasons for turning down the jobs that Blum claims he has offered. During his chat with Polygon, however, Blum struggled to remember the name of the other female director who’s also not interested:
During our call, there’s another name Blum struggles to recall — a woman to whom he’s thrown projects left and right — but he’s so driven to figure out the name that, in a true Hollywood move, he summons an assistant, then later a Blumhouse exec, onto the phone to help him remember.
One of the names offered by Blum’s associates happens to be Lynne Ramsay, who already gravitates toward seriously disturbing material, so that would be a collaboration to watch, indeed. However, the director in question (who confirms to Polygon that she’s had scheduling difficulties but would be open to directing a Blumhouse movie) turns out to be Leigh Janiak, who may one day be the first Blumhouse Productions female helmer.
Blum does seem sincere throughout the discussion, even though it’s odd that he couldn’t remember someone he so desperately wanted to hire. And yes, it’s very true that male directors vastly outnumber their female counterparts, but is it for lack of trying? Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke recently disclosed (to the Daily Beast) her belief that Lionsgate only hired a woman because the studio had low expectations and certainly didn’t expect the vampire romance to gross nearly $400 million worldwide. Hardwicke also confirmed reports that she was gifted a cupcake as a thank you, which kinda confirms, all around, that — horror film or not (and Twilight obviously isn’t one) — women aren’t always taken seriously in these jobs. As far as Blum is concerned, however, it would help to hear which of his films have been turned down by women, if only to fill in some much needed context for this story.
Also, maybe this list of female horror directors would be of use?
UPDATE: Blum has apologized for what he calls his “dumb” comments, which he labeled a “stupid mistake.” He continued with a statement on Twitter:
“We have not done a good enough job working with female directors and it is not because they don’t exist. I heard from many today. The way my passion came out was dumb. And for that I am sorry. I will do better.”