Consuming Jason Blum's interviews I kept coming back to one idea: asymmetry.
The best description of asymmetry comes from Chris Cole, who said that talking to strangers is a great asymmetric bet. It might mean marriage, friendship, or business collaborations and it costs almost nothing. Part-of-the-reason Blum has been successful is making a lot of asymmetric bets too.
To producers he offers the asymmetry of making what they want, how they want. In a NYT profile Blum is "the rare producer who stayed out of the way." But Blum isn’t committed to large budgets or fixed releases.
To audiences he offers the asymmetry of an interesting movie. Ideally if someone removed the scares, a Blumhouse Productions film would stand on it's own. "If the story is great and cool let's make it, we don't have that much to lose."
To employees he offers the asymmetry of payouts. “It’s not a perfect system. It’s backfire badly two times but if your gambles are five million dollars then the company can sustain that.”
At each level Blum aligns the stakeholders. They're in it together.
"In big movies, interests are not aligned between those above the line and the financier, because above the line gets paid whether the movie works or not. The financier only makes money if the movie works, and that fundamentally sets up a contentious relationship."
We started this week contrasting Blumhouse Productions and Disney to note that both models work because both models work under certain conditions. Shane Parrish is quick to note that just because Google's 20% time works at Google doesn't mean it'll work for your organization. The same is true for the Blumhouse Productions model. When it comes to sequels, Jason said, "you have to use a different side of your brain."
Sequels get more money, time, and focus. The moneyball for directors, two part brand, and limited scope are all only true for original movies because sequels are different.
Go to any movie theater and the seats are one-size-fits-all but look behind any movie and you'll see that the choices are anything but. These ideas work for Blum, they might work for you too. If they do, you too will be scary good.
No audio this week. If you missed it, let me know.