In a new interview with Polygon published Wednesday, Blumhouse founder Jason Blum (named 2018's Producer of the Year by The Hollywood Reporter) revealed the reason he has never made a theatrical horror film with a woman at the helm.
"There are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror," Blum told Polygon. "I’m a massive admirer of [The Babadook director] Jennifer Kent. I’ve offered her every movie we’ve had available. She’s turned me down every time."
According to statistics from Women and Hollywood, of the 250 top grossing films in 2017, only 11% were directed by women. But it's not because women directors don't exist: they are just not hired at the same rate as male directors are. This means that often, even talented women directors will have thinner resumes than their male peers, which makes them less likely to score the next big gig. It's a damning feedback loop.
As for Blum, the internet was quick to call out this statement, reminding him that there are plenty of women directors who love horror who are looking for work. The AV Club even wrote up a list of 10 horror directors who just so happen to be women — including Blum's former assistant, Chelsea Stardust, who once made an incredibly disturbing short film out of my favorite sleepover urban legend.
Jason Blum is lazy and decided to blame it on women.— Peter Stoia (@Peter_Awesome) October 18, 2018
Just go fucking find a female director, guy. You go door-to-door in Hollywood and you’ll find someone within 30 minutes.
@jason_blum My mentor Dan @danrybicky submitted my horror script "Severed Souls" 4years ago and you passed. I'm an award winning female horror director looking to direct my first feature. Perhaps if your doors were open to give women a chance you'd have more to work with.— Anastasia Basche (@AnastasiaBasche) October 18, 2018
Fortunately, Blum is listening to the feedback from his interview — and taking initiative to meet with women directors interested in the horror genre. In a statement posted to his Twitter on Thursday, the producer clarified his comments.
"Thank you everyone for calling me out on my dumb comments in that interview. I made a stupid mistake. I spoke too quickly about a serious issue — an issue I am passionate about. Over 50 percent of our audience is female. Over 50 percent of Blumhouse executives are women."
He also added that many Blumhouse films star women, including the 2018 Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
"Some of our most successful franchises are anchored by women, including the one opening today/tomorrow, led by the biggest female legend in this genre."
He concluded with:
"But we have not done a good enough job working with female directors and it is not because they don't exist. I heard from many today. The way my passion came out was dumb. And for that I am sorry. I will do better."
On Wednesday night, at the Halloween premiere red carpet, Blum assured Variety that he would take initiative to meet with women directors.
"Chelsea Stardust, who is my old assistant, I financed her first movie, but I would like to work with more," he told the outlet. "Today was a great day for me because I learned a lot and because there are a lot of women out there that I’m going to meet as a result of today, so I’m grateful for [the backlash]."
Women: forever having to remind people we exist, in all our forms.