Before the genius of Cloverfield, before the tedium of the Paranormal Activity sequels, and before the utter mediocrity of The Gallows, 1999’s The Blair Witch Project was the found footage horror film that started it all. Anybody who was a high school student in the late 90’s will probably remember this film as the one all of the grungey kids with black leather boots and waist-long hair lined up in droves to see at the multiplex. Whether you love or hate the film, it’s impossible to deny that it was a cultural phenomenon when it came out, and was a huge success for the filmmakers. However, despite its fame and longevity as a found footage classic, there is still more of the film that has yet to be seen.
In an interview with the Found Footage Files podcast, Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez said that he shot 19 hours of unused footage for the film. He says 17 years after the film’s release, he’s ready to craft a new extended cut using this unreleased footage. He said:
In a couple of weeks I could probably take the original movie and edit a longer version. I know the fans are like ‘everybody wants to see it’… it would be cool to do, honestly. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that if Lionsgate Films hired me. I think it would a lot of fun.
While he is totally committed to creating a new extended cut, those pesky studios are keeping him from doing just that. Apparently, Sanchez does not own the rights to the footage he shot; Lionsgate does. As a result, Sanchez is unable to fulfill his found footage fantasies without violating Lionsgate’s copyright. Kinda sucks that he can’t use his own footage, but studios will be studios…
Fortunately, he is still actively trying to make his extended cut, and is asking horror fans to petition Lionsgate. Before hundreds of different fan petitions saturated Change.org, Found Footage Files took the liberty of putting a petition on their own website. The good news is that so far, they have received over 1,400 signatures, and the number is still getting bigger. Sanchez even has Oren Peli, one of the biggest names in found footage horror, supporting him. Peli says:
“As a long-time fan of found-footage movies and Blair Witch Project, I would love to see an extended version released!
If this petition ends up returning the footage to Sanchez, perhaps we can see an all new DVD release of The Blair Witch Project: Extended Edition just in time for the Halloween season. Maybe we can even get a high-profile limited theatrical release à la Batman: The Killing Joke. So if you want to do your part in returning the valuable footage to its rightful owner, you can sign the petition here at the bottom of the page: http://foundfootagecritic.com/blair-witch-petition/.