Universal Pictures

These days Mike Flanagan is known as the master of prestige genre television with series like “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass” along with films like “Doctor Sleep” and “Gerald’s Game”.

A decade ago is when he had his first box-office success with 2013’s “Oculus” which was well received, followed by the little-seen “Before I Wake” which floundered on a shelf due to distributor financial issues.

In the mix there was “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” a 1960s-set prequel to the utterly forgettable 2014 Blumhouse film “Ouija”. That first film cost just $5-6 million and made $103 million worldwide, but was widely panned.

Flanagan’s follow-up made $81.7 million of a most costly $9-12 million budget, which was still profitable but not the runaway success of the first. More importantly, the reviews were very good, and the film is held up as a great example of a prequel/sequel vastly improving on its predecessor.

In a posting this week on Tumblr, Flanagan has revealed he really didn’t like the title and explained how Blumhouse chief Jason Blum told him the news:

“I remember the phone call I got from Blum after the movie was done. Universal had decided that they wouldn’t call the movie ‘Ouija 2’ after all, they were worried about the number 2 making it feel less interesting. Instead, they’d taken a big swing: the movie would be called ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil.’

I laughed out loud. I thought he was kidding. When it became obvious that he wasn’t, I filed a protest. ‘It’s not very good,’ I said. ‘It’s cheesy. And not to put too fine a point on it, but the movie depicts neither the origin of the Ouija board or of – um – Evil.’

Blum’s response? “Buddy, the title tested well. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Trust us, if the studio says it’s ‘Origin of Evil,’ it’s ‘Origin of Evil.’”

Flanagan said the film was “considered a modest success, not a hit by any means, but no failure… to everyone’s surprise, the teenagers just… didn’t really show up.”

To this day, Flanagan says the film remains his most successful movie to date – “Doctor Sleep” did poor box-office, and his films since, such as “Hush”, have launched on streaming services.

The full post, which goes heavily into the making of his film, is up on Tumblr.


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