Blair Witch Project’s Cast Wants Lionsgate to Give Them Their Due

A few weeks ago, Lionsgate revealed it had another Blair Witch movie in the works. The series, which started with 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, has been off and on over the decades, and both of its sequels have been about how people have been shaped by that first movie. Now, ahead of Project’s 25th theatrical anniversary in July, the cast behind that film have decided they’d like to directly benefit from that monumental film, and give a little love to future filmmakers.

On Saturday, actors Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, and Joshua Leonard released a joint statement to Lionsgate asking for retroactive and future residual payments for their roles in the original film. Those residuals are claimed to be equal to the sum they would’ve gotten had they been properly represented by SAG-AFTRA (or by a legal team) back in the late ‘90s. The trio also made an even bigger ask: getting to provide “meaningful consultation” on future Blair Witch projects, be they prequel, sequel, reboot, video game, and so on—anything that could reasonably feature their likenesses, whether they’re actually in the thing or just being used to promote it.

“Our film has now been rebooted twice, both times were a disappointment from a fan/box office/critical perspective,” they wrote. “Neither 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 love & want for 25 years, we’re your single greatest, yet thus-far unutilized secret-weapon!”

Finally, they called on Lionsgate to pay a yearly $60,ooo grant (the budget of the Blair Witch Project) for “an unknown/aspiring genre filmmaker” making their first feature film. And as it’s a grant, Lionsgate wouldn’t end up owning any of the rights to said project.

To further plead their case, Donohue, Leonard, and Williams posted a public statement from directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, plus producers Gregg Hale, Robin Cowie, and Michael Monello, which we’ve posted in full below.

As we near the 25th anniversary of The Blair Witch Project, our pride in the storyworld we created and the film we produced is reaffirmed by the recent announcement of a reboot by horror icons Jason Blum and James Wan.

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

We celebrate our film’s legacy, and equally, we believe the actors deserve to be celebrated for their enduring association with the franchise.

Sincerely, Eduardo Sanchez, Dan Myrick, Gregg Hale, Robin Cowie, and Michael Monello

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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