While director Adam Wingard's upcoming Blair Witch is technically the second sequel in the Blair Witch franchise, following Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the movie doesn't pay any attention to its predecessor. From an outside perspective, this makes plenty of sense, given that the 2000 film was a received tremendously poorly, but the real explanation for its exclusion is actually a lot simpler than that: the canon for the franchise only includes work made by or in coordination with the creative team responsible for creating the original, and that doesn't include Book of Shadows.
The continuity of the Blair Witch franchise was something I talked about at length with screenwriter Simon Barrett a few weeks when I had the chance to interview him over the phone. Curious about the fact that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was in no way referenced in the new film, I asked the filmmaker what he considered to be part of the larger universe going forward, and he explained in great detail:
For those unfamiliar with the story behind the making of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the film started moving through development shortly after the release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, as Artisan Entertainment wanted to immediately capitalize on the success of their hit movie. As a result, Haxan Films - the production company made up of Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Daniel Myrick, Robin Cowie and Michael Monell, who made the first feature - was basically cut out of the process.
If you were planning to watch (or rewatch) Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 before seeing Blair Witch, the good news is that now you don't have to. That being said, Simon Barrett also made it clear that it's not his intention to disrespect those who are actual fans of the first follow-up, and as a result the new movie doesn't really do anything to step on the events that went down in that film. Said Simon Barrett,
In fact, at the end of the day Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard really only view one piece of material as being completely outside the Blair Witch canon:
So no, this is not what the Blair Witch actually looks like:
Do you think Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard made the right choice when it came to determining the continuity for the Blair Witch franchise? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts, and look for the new film in theaters this Friday.