Audiences and critics aren’t the only ones feeling underwhelmed by Adam Wingard’s new Blair Witch film.
Joe Berlinger, writer-director of the first Blair Witch sequel, 2000’s Book of Shadows, took to Twitter on Monday morning to vent frustrations over the treatment his movie received, despite performing better at the box office than Wingard’s latest effort.
“#BlairWitch had far worse opening w/e at box office then my 2000 BW sequel,” Berlinger wrote. “Maybe folks were a tad too hard on me?”
— Joe Berlinger (@joeberlinger) September 19, 2016
Nearly 16 years ago, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 debuted to $13.2 million in ticket sales on a $15 million budget. Adjusted for inflation, that total balloons to around $21 million in 2016 dollars — more than double what Blair Witch made across its first three-day frame.
Still, Book of Shadows was considered a box office failure as, in comparison, The Blair Witch Project, reportedly made for just $60,000 in 1999, grossed $140 million domestically after making over $29 million during its opening weekend. Shadows earned a 13 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 3.4/10 from 105 reviews. It also received five Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. It won in the category of Worst Remake or Sequel.
When a fan tweeted Berlinger, who would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award as the director of the documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, to inquire about a director’s cut of Shadows, he pointed them in the direction of the studio.
“Would love it. Pls tell @lionsgatemovies ; The critics may still hate it, but at least it would be my version of it,” he wrote.
— Joe Berlinger (@joeberlinger) September 18, 2016
Though Wingard’s project is generally regarded as an improvement over Berlinger’s, moviegoers and film journalists essentially told the former’s movie to stand in the corner, as the $5 million production debuted to a soft $9.7 million from 3,121 locations at the weekend box office. Though it grossed almost double what it cost to make, critical reviews and audience exit polling (it currently stands at 36 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and has a disastrous D+ grade on CinemaScore) are still some of the worst of any 2016 release thus far.
Wingard and Blair Witch writer Simon Barrett joked about their film’s reception on Sunday, with the latter tweeting, “Well, our horror film may have been a disappointment at the box office this weekend, but at least we got overwhelmingly negative reviews,” to which Wingard, referencing the financial success of Clint Eastwood’s Sully, responded, “Bro I told you we shoulda made that movie about the boring guy who landed a plane in the water instead.”