EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: In the wake of The Hunger Games ceasing and Divergent in limbo, Lionsgate may just have another franchise on its hands, or so it seems from Comic-Con: Attendees learned, to considerable surprise, that the distrib’s Sept. 16 horror film The Woods is actually a straight-up sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. Even The Woods title was a fake-out: The movie will be called Blair Witch.

the woods

Last night Lionsgate invited fans and select press to a so-called Woods screening, and most walked into the theater thinking it was just your next run-of-the-mill horror film screening at Comic-Con, like New Line/Warner Bros.’ Lights Out and Screen Gems’ Don’t Breathe. 

But attendees learned during the screening that The Woods is really a sequel in the Blair Witch horror property canon. During the screening, the distrib literally changed out The Woods one sheets and banners in the lobby for Blair Witch ones.

blair witch changeover

The film was shot in secret last summer, and picks up where the last two Blair Witch films left off: In the Burkittsville, Maryland woods where three filmmakers disappeared 20 years ago.

In the new one, four millennials venture into the Black Hills forest to film the weekend for a documentary class. One of them, James, has spent his life searching for his older sister who disappeared with her film crew 20 years ago in these woods trying to uncover the Blair Witch legend.

blair witch

While the 1999 overnight found-footage title directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick was initially fueled by moviegoers’ belief that the film was documenting an actual phantasm incident and grossed $140.5M at the domestic B.O. and $248.6M worldwide, the ball was dropped on the 2000 sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Sanchez and Myrick weren’t involved with the sequel and it free-fell at the B.O. with $26.4M stateside, $47.7M worldwide. Blair Witch is directed by Adam Wingard. Reception coming out of last night’s screening was truly upbeat with many feeling that the pic returns the series back to its original roots. Here’s the trailer: