Blair Witch Project Actors: Studios Have Cheated Us

Trio asks for retroactive payment over the 1999 blockbuster
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2024 3:19 PM CDT
Blair Witch Project Actors Ask for Retroactive Money
In this publicity file photo, Heather Donahue (now Rei Hance) turns the camera on herself during her confession scene from the horror film "The Blair Witch Project."   (AP Photo/Artisan Entertainment, file)

The three actors in the unexpected 1999 blockbuster The Blair Witch Project say it's long past time they were fairly compensated for their work. In an open letter to Lionsgate, Rei Hance (then known as Heather Donahue), Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams ask for retroactive money as well as a say in future projects related to the film, reports the Guardian. "At this point, it's 25 years of disrespect from the folks who've pocketed the lion's share (pun intended) of the profits from OUR work, and that feels both icky and classless," reads the letter written by Leonard and signed by all three.

Leonard says the trio earned about $300,000 each off the film, which grossed nearly $250 million worldwide, per Variety. All three lacked "proper union or legal representation when the film was made," he writes. Their statement came out after Lionsgate and Blumhouse announced they would be rebooting the original. The three actors improvised much of their dialogue in the horror film, used their own names to blur the lines between fiction and reality, and participated in marketing stunts such as having their photos and names placed on missing person's posters.

In the letter, they ask for payments "equivalent to the sum that would've been allotted through SAG-AFTRA, had we had proper union or legal representation when the film was made," per People. The amounts are not spelled out, but they would include both retroactive payments and future residuals. The three also ask Lionsgate to provide $60,000 a year to help aspiring filmmakers make their first movie. The studio has not responded to the letter. (More The Blair Witch Project stories.)

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