Help us release the Director's Cut of BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 on Bluray/DVD
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After the massive success of The Blair Witch Project, the studio behind it, Artisan Entertainment, was eager to produce a sequel while the film's popularity was still at its peak. However, Haxan Films, who created the original film, was not ready to begin work on a follow-up, preferring to wait until the initial buzz had died down. Artisan decided to proceed without them, hiring Joe Berlinger, who had previously (and subsequently) only done true documentaries, to direct. Blair Witch directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez served as executive producers on the film.
Stylistically, the sequel turned out a direct opposite of its predecessor: though the film occasionally utilizes the point of view camcorder/pseudo-documentary format used in the first movie, Blair Witch 2 more closely resembles the glossy, big-budget special effects-laden horror films that Blair Witch was a counter to. According to director Joe Berlinger "The first film, which I have tremendous respect for, was a phenomenon because of how it was marketed, as a real documentary, at a naive and early stage of the Internet...my film wasn't going to do that kind of business. Creatively, my intention was to do something very meta that made fun of the very idea of doing a sequel ". According to him, his script was about "the dangers of blurring the lines between fiction and reality and the phenomenon of the success of the first movie". Berlinger also stated that he originally made the film with more of an ambiguous tone that focused on the characters' psychological unraveling after their night spent in the Black Hills area.
But during post production, Artisan tested the film in focus groups and demanded a more traditional kind of horror sequel. They recut the film and re-shot certain scenes to add more traditional horror movie elements, thus creating what they saw as a more "commercial" film. The hospital footage featuring Jeff and the footage of the main characters murdering the foreign tourists was shot weeks prior to the film's release date, the latter added only for more visual violence. We also found on the internet clips and photos of scenes that got cut or shortened (Tristen's vision of Eileen Treacle in the hospital and the scene of the owl crashing the window were a little bit longer, and there's a scene of the group meeting Mary Brown from the original Blair Witch). The original cut of the film also featured Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft" during the opening credits, but the studio replaced the song with "Disposable Teens" by Marilyn Manson. Berlinger repeatedly expressed his dislike of the studio's changes throughout interviews and the film's DVD commentary. "The studio recut [my] film and inserted scenes of gore against my will, and I didn’t have the courage back then to just remove my name from the film. And then to be eviscerated by critics on a cut of the film that I did not sanction was doubly painful. That’s not to say that my director’s cut would have garnered a better reaction from critics per se, [but] at least I could have stood by the film for representing my vision, and if people hated that version, it would have been less painful because it’s what I would have wanted to be seen.”
The movie did well financially, in the United States it debuted at number 2 with $13,000,000. After 8 weeks, it finished with $26,421,314. Internationally the film made $47,737,094. The overall reception to the film upon release was negative tho. The re-editing made by the studio with flashes of gore and violence popping out of nowhere and time going back and forth made the film look messy to critics and confusing to the audience. The whole thing backfired and the film was considered by many one of the worst sequels ever made. Additionally, the film was nominated for five Razzie Awards, including "Worst Picture" (which the original 1999 film was nominated for), and won for "Worst Remake or Sequel".
Still, Blair Witch 2 achieved a cult following from people who could see its potential behind all the messy studio decisions. The film deserves credit for its originality, it doesn't try to recreate the original film in any way, also the study of the first film's hype and what made people drawn to it is very interesting, and the actors did a very good job with their characters.
If you somehow appreciate this film or at least think it should be released in its original form, now it's the time to help. Please sign this petition and let's show there's enough interest out there to finally see what Joe Berlinger intended for us to see.
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