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SYFY WIRE Blumhouse

WIRE Buzz: Blumhouse launches podcast series; Ubisoft plans cartoons; more

By Jacob Oller
Watch Dogs key art

Blumhouse is building an audio addition. The horror studio, known for starting with the savvy Paranormal Activity franchise and moving up to recent box office stars Get Out and Happy Death Day, is bringing its smart take on scares to the airwaves with a new podcasting venture.

According to Business Insider, Blumhouse Productions and iHeartRadio will produce a series of horror fiction podcasts, starting with writer/director Dan Bush’s “The Mantawauk Caves.” The 12-episode series is a “three kids enter, one leaves” tale set in the Appalachian Mountains and injected with a heaping helping of the supernatural.

"We're such avid fans of great podcasts at Blumhouse and we were eager to partner with iHeartRadio to curate a slate of dark, fictional stories together," said Blumhouse founder Jason Blum.

"The Mantawauk Caves," the first of many series to come, will be released in 2020.

Next, another media juggernaut is switching lanes. Ubisoft, the video game company behind franchises like Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia, is making big moves in the world of animation.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ubisoft is partnering with different creators in the industry trying to replicate the success of its Rayman spin-off series Rabbids Invasion. In addition to that show getting a Mars-set special, Rayman is also getting a comedy-adventure series developed while mobile game Hungry Shark is being turned into kid-friendly Hungry Shark Squad.

But it’s not all simplistic early-kid fare. “Every show has a different target that it’s aiming at and a different format,” Ubisoft Film & Television managing director Helene Juguet said. That means the company’s Watch Dogs (a gritty, paranoid hacker series) is being made a bit less R-rated so that its “cybermystery” can target a slightly older youth market. Similarly, the company’s neon-colored adaptation of a Far Cry expansion built on ‘80s excess (Blood Dragon) is turning to producer Adi Shankar to help nail the YA market. Titled Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Vibe, the series “will form a multiverse,” whatever that means — especially since the IPs in question are from mostly different genres.

On top of all that, the company is also working on an animated meta series about gaming culture. No word on when any of the properties listed in this wide-spanning initiative are planning to hit small screens, but the ambition is certainly there...and as long as things don’t turn out like the Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia movies, fans will be happy.

Finally, MacGyver meets Bourne as The Blacksmith finds its director. The film adapts Malik Evans and Richard Sparkman's graphic novel of the same name, removing tech expert spy Wes Loomis from his comfort zone and sending him on the run - with only what's around him serving as fodder for his 007-esque machinations.

Helming it all will be someone who's no stranger to improvising men with very specific sets of skills. Taken and The Transporter director Pierre Morel will tackle Ben Ripley's (Source Code) script, according to The Hollywood Reporter, though the film will likely not feature a breathless Liam Neeson on the phone. "Ben Ripley’s terrific script introduces us to a highly original, new breed of tech savvy action hero in Wes Loomis, and Pierre is the perfect director to bring this franchise to life," Ford said.

Amping up the spy action with scenes of ramshackle gadgetry seems like a natural fit for the big screen, and more news will come soon, as The Blacksmith will begin production in 2020.