The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American found footage psychological horror film written, directed and edited by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. It stars Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams and Joshua Leonard. The film tells the fictional story of three student filmmakers who hike in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. It was release theaterically on July 14, 1999.
Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who've traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale's veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.
The Blair Witch Project was shown at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and had a limited release on July 14, before going wide on July 30, 1999 after months of publicity, including a campaign by the studio to use the Internet and suggest that the movie was a record of real events. The distribution strategy for The Blair Witch Project was created and implemented by Artisan studio executive Steven Rothenberg.
The Blair Witch Project grossed $248.6 million worldwide. After reshoots, a new sound mix, experiments with different endings and other changes made by the studio, the film's final budget ended up between $500,000 and $750,000.
The film received wide acclaim from critics, although audience reception was polarized and divided. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 86%, based on 155 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Full of creepy campfire scares, mock-doc The Blair Witch Project keeps audiences in the dark about its titular villain -- thus proving that imagination can be as scary as anything onscreen." On Metacritic the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".