The scrappy production and shocking success of “The Blair Witch Project” led to legal spats right from the start, with Orlando filmmaker Sam Barber filing a lawsuit demanding a producer credit and a share of the profits mere weeks after it hit theaters. A few months later, Artisan Entertainment sued United Artists and Regal Cinemas for allegedly failing to pay license fees. Shortly afterwards, the original trio of actors filed a complaint when the sequel “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” used footage and images of Heather, Josh, and Mike without their permission or any offer of compensation. The original film was a non-union production, so the three main actors didn’t have the kind of protections and guarantees that would have come with a SAG-AFTRA contract. 

This time around, they’re not coming out of the gate with a lawsuit but with a straightforward appeal to Lionsgate, which bought the rights to the franchise in 2003. Joshua Leonard shared the appeal on his Facebook page, alongside a supportive statement from the film’s producers and directors.

The appeal may have been inspired by last year’s Hollywood strikes, in which both actors and writers fought fiercely for months over the terms of their new contracts with Hollywood studios. Leonard writes that they were “starry-eyed young actors” in 1999 but are now “grown-ass adults … greyer, surlier, wiser, and with far fewer f***s to give when it comes to speaking up for their own rights and the rights of other artists who are being been put in similar compromised/extractive positions by a dehumanizing system at this very moment!”



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