• Joshua Leonard criticizes Lionsgate for using his face without permission in the
    Blair Witch
    reboot press announcement.
  • Actors, even from cult classics, struggle for respect and rights in Hollywood, as seen through Leonard’s frustrations.
  • Original
    Blair Witch Project
    actors also previously faced legal battles over their rights and earnings, highlighting ongoing industry issues.



The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard expresses his frustration with the announcement that a reboot is in development. Leonard starred in the original 1999 movie, which plays out in a “found footage” style as viewers watched the remaining footage of three amateur filmmakers who mysteriously disappeared while shooting a documentary about the Blair Witch myth. It is often credited with popularizing the found footage style and has enjoyed an enduring legacy as a horror movie classic.

Following the announcement of a new Blair Witch movie from Blumhouse and Lionsgate, Leonard took to his Instagram to share his frustration over the project.

It wasn’t so much the reboot that bothered him as much as the fact that Lionsgate used his face in the press release without notifying him of the movie beforehand. His frustration was instead exacerbated by other factors, namely how he has been unsuccessful in trying to get in touch with the studio for a charity event, and the long list of issues the original actors faced from The Blair Witch Project‘s original studio. The reboot announcement was just the latest in the “25 years of disrespect” he has faced from the industry.

Joshua Leonard Highlights Actors’ Struggles in Hollywood

Heather Donahue in The Blair Witch Project

Leonard’s frustrations over The Blair Witch Project reboot provide insight into actors’ experiences in the film industry. There’s often a misconception that it’s only small-time actors who struggle in Hollywood and who brought on the SAG-AFTRA strike. However, Leonard’s post reveals that even stars of horror cult classics struggle to earn respect and maintain their rights in Hollywood. For example, Lionsgate seems to have overlooked that the original Blair Witch Project actors are a fundamental part of the franchise and should’ve been notified of the reboot.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s use of Leonard’s face in the reboot press release without notification is reminiscent of the legal battle the original actors once faced. In his post, he mentions how, since the three leads used their real names in the project, The Blair Witch Project‘s distributor, Artisan Entertainment, tried to claim it owned the original actors’ names and likenesses. Leonard details how the cast’s earnings were just $300,000 each, yet they were forced to file a lawsuit to prevent the studio from profiting off their names and likenesses without their consent for the foreseeable future.


The Blair Witch Project’s Filming Conditions Were Scarier Than The Actual Movie

In addition to its found-footage format, the authentic feel of The Blair Witch Project can be attributed to the movie’s disturbing working conditions.

Many of Leonard’s issues regarding The Blair Witch Project are similar to points raised during the recent SAG-AFTRA strike when actors protested low compensation and studios’ desire to own and recreate their likenesses through AI. Leonard concludes his post by explaining that all these issues occur when studios fail to recognize that artists are a fundamental part of the movie’s success and are living components of the franchise that deserve acknowledgment. As The Blair Witch Project‘s reboot sparks discussion, it’s important to remember that the original stars and their ongoing struggles should be a part of that conversation.

Source: Joshua Leonard/Instagram

The Blair Witch Project

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Eduardo Sánchez , Daniel Myrick

Release Date
July 30, 1999

Summit Entertainment

Summit Entertainment

Daniel Myrick , Eduardo Sánchez

Joshua Leonard , Michael C. Williams , Heather Donahue

81 minutes

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

$60 thousand

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