The Purge franchise is one of Blumhouse’s many crown jewels. It’s not often that you see an original idea bloom into a multi-million dollar household name within just a few years, especially in modern Horror. But then again, no one else has really found a rhythm like Blumhouse. The studio is on the eve of releasing the fifth and supposed “final” film in the saga, The Forever Purge. Love them or hate them, thanks to creator/writer James DeMonaco and producer Jason Blum, it’s practically impossible to not know anyone who isn’t invested in this series. The numbers show, for each film has multiplied its worth at the box office far more than you would expect.
The Forever Purge is looking to potentially send off the series on a high note, with the annual 12-hour Purge this time around being extended… indefinitely. With the world of the Purge being expanded on over the last few sequels, the idea of “What if people didn’t stop purging?” felt inevitable. Though, this latest film finds its edge being caught in the middle of race relations between Mexican immigrants and locals in Texas. Suddenly, wanting to forever Purge out those who aren’t “pure” and “don’t belong” finds a heavier meaning, especially coming out of the current U.S. political landscape.
Producer Jason Blum knew this was no ordinary sequel, which is exactly why the film is helmed by Mexican director Everardo Valerio Gout and supported by a Mexican cast. For a film with sensitive political allegories, the goal was to make something authentic while still being as scary as the Purge series is known for. Producer Jason Blum lays the process in our exclusive interview, he breaks down The Forever Purge, his hope to keep the franchise alive, and, of course, gives us a tease of Halloween Kills which is just on the horizon. Also with him being the CEO of Blumhouse, we get his current thoughts on streaming and the theatrical experience with Horror.
To start off, The Purge has been a political story since the beginning, but can you comment on how this new film specifically carries political tension that more people have gotten familiar with over the last few years, particularly the “Make America Great Again” mindset?
Jason Blum: I think James [DeMonaco] is really good at kind of telling the future. First and foremost, the movie is super scary. The movie is about what would happen when there’s a Purge with zero rules, the rules are out the window. So with the Purge, you can only let anarchy last for so long, in a controlled way. And eventually, anarchy wins. This movie is about what happens if the Purge is going on and it doesn’t have any limits. I think that’s pretty cool. Every Purge movie has been as to a certain degree touched on current events in the United States. I think if you look at the whole franchise together, it’s a comment on the American Dream and the fact that there are a lot of things about the American Dream that really don’t hold up. That’s what all the movies tackle one way or the other, and this movie is no exception.
The Forever Purge was actually supposed to come out last year if not for the pandemic, but even now a whole year later, it feels like its themes haven’t lessened at all.
Jason Blum: If anything, it’s the other way around. I think the movie is even more relevant now than when it was supposed to come out.
The film actually reminded me of the January 6th Capitol Insurrection. The way this new “extended” Purge had been planned by radicals online for months…
Jason Blum: Yeah, totally. Totally.
For a movie that has such topical allegories, can you talk about finding the right talent? For example, within the context of the film, you actually have a Mexican director and Mexican stars on screen.
Jason Blum: Yeah, it was important to me. I didn’t say we had to have a Mexican director, but I said I think the movie is going to be a lot better if we can find a Mexican director. We worked with the director before in Television, I really liked him. We had a good relationship. We sent him the script. He said yes, I was very happy about that. He brought the actors and, you know, I think one of the reasons the movie works as well as it does is the acting is just top-notch. And because the director is Mexican, I feel like the movie feels more authentic than it would ordinarily, so I’m very happy about that. I wanted you to feel as real as you possibly could in this fantasy situation. And I think Everardo did a great job making it feel real, making it feel authentic.
Were there ever meetings that you and writer James DeMonaco had with Everardo in regards to dodging certain stereotypes with telling an immigrant’s story? Or did you let Everardo free at the wheel and entrusted him with that?
Jason Blum: I really let Everardo go where he wanted. You know, it was actually the other way around. I don’t remember specific things but I certainly remember him saying, “Um, can we do it this way instead? This would feel more real if we say it this way, said it that way.” We hired him because we wanted his opinion, so we took his opinion and what he said, we actually did. I think the movie is better as a result.
Myself growing up in a Mexican household, I can say that some of the dialogue in the film feels just how people would actually talk to each other.
Jason Blum: That’s good! That’s what I wanted. That’s what I told them and it makes for a more entertaining movie for sure because you’re not reminded, you know, you forget it’s a movie a little bit more – it helps suspend disbelief. I think it’s hard. I mean, I can’t speak for you, but occasionally, maybe not as often, it’s the other way – you see a foreign movie with an American portrayed and the accent is wrong or something is wrong like that. It takes you out of the movie. So I was trying to avoid that.
Now with this being the 5th Purge movie, and writer James DeMonaco says it’s the last, you’ve now gone from The First Purge to The Forever Purge in building this universe… but do you ever think “Well, I think we’ve just done it all”? Or do you firmly believe that there can always be more?
Jason Blum: It depends on the franchise. You know, some franchises, I feel like you’ve gotten as many as you can. The Purge, the idea that crime is legal for some set amount of time, or in this case, just generally legal, that every single person would have another story. So there are an infinite amount of stories. So the Purge, I think, could continue. I mean, James has said this is the last movie, but I’m going to try and twist his arm and talk him into one more after this, at least. I think this could go on for a long time. There are a lot more movies that you could get out of the Purge.
Blumhouse released a few films during the pandemic, one being Freaky. You previously said that the theatrical experience would survive, but it wouldn’t be the exact same. But now theaters are reopening and we just saw the massive success of a Horror film with A Quiet Place Part II, has this changed your stance at all? Did seeing that give you more confidence going into the year?
Jason Blum: Oh, it definitely gave me more confidence, gave me more confidence about The Purge and Halloween Kills. It definitely gave me a lot more confidence, but I do think that the actual experience is going to change. I mean, I think it already has changed. I think the kind of movies that people are going to want to see in the movie theater, they’re fewer types of movies. Luckily, I think Horror is one of the few genres that’s really going to survive, and [The Forever Purge] was made to be seen in a theater, you couldn’t appreciate it nearly as much if it wasn’t in the theater. It’s one of the reasons why we chose not to go to streaming with it during the pandemic, but to hold it so it could play in the theater. And I think that’s generally true of Horror, it doesn’t play as well at home. I think fans know that, they understand that. They’re going to show up in the theater to see Horror, I think for sure.
Speaking of choosing what goes to streaming and what stays in theaters, we’re expecting a new Paranormal Activity film coming out soon on Paramount+. Would you say that was more suited for streaming?
Jason Blum: That wasn’t my choice, that was Paramount. They have their own metrics. So that was up to them and they made that decision. I wouldn’t put it on a streamer if it was up to me, but it’s not up to me.
People are also dying for Halloween Kills, and October is just around the corner. When can we expect the full promo to kick off?
Jason Blum: Very soon, very soon. They’re going to be materials very very soon. I promise! My Twitter is exploding from angry, angry fans but I promise there’ll be here very soon.
Would you say that the very long wait is going to have more people show up in person for Halloween Kills, just like it has boosted the traction for recent films in theaters?
Jason Blum: Well, I don’t think the long wait is why it’s worth it. It’s worth it because the movie is spectacular and people will be as angry as they are that they haven’t gotten to see it yet. When they see it, they’ll be calm because the movie is great. David [Gordon Green] did an amazing job.
Just one last thing, if you could think of any idea on where to take another Purge movie, what would it be? Because, no spoilers, but The Forever Purge ends in a very big and interesting way.
Jason Blum: You know, I would like to take it internationally, but it’s really up to James [DeMonaco]. For an international version of the Purge, it would be really interesting to see it happen in other countries. See exactly what would happen? Maybe there’s a worldwide Purge, who knows? But that would be kind of cool!