EXCLUSIVE: Jason Blum will bring the studio into the low-budget but often high-gross world of genre films. Universal Pictures has made a 3-year first-look deal with Blum and his Blumhouse Productions which produced the Paranormal Activity franchise, and followed that up with Insidious, the James Wan-directed thriller that has already become one of the most profitable films of 2011. A sequel seems inevitable.

The original Paranormal Activity cost about $15,000 and grossed $193 million. The first sequel cost $3 million and grossed $177 million worldwide and the third film debuts Oct. 21. Insidious cost $1.5 million and grossed $81 million worldwide and is still rolling out. This guy is minting money. He’s producing the latest installment of the fright franchise Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes for Dimension Films, produced the Barry Levinson-directed eco-horror film The Bay, The River for ABC and the Jay Chandresakar-directed comedy Baby Makers. He is producing the Oren Peli-directed Area 51 for Paramount Pictures, as well as The Lords of Salem, with Rob Zombie directing. Blum’s also an exec producer on the John Hillcoat-directed The Wettest County in the World. This amounts to an aggressive move into the low-budget area for Universal, which, if anything, is known for spending generously on its slates.

“We are certain that Jason will be a significant asset to the Universal family,” said Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley in a joint statement. “He brings an ability to attract top talent and a keen eye for producing high-quality, modestly budgeted films that are both cutting-edge and commercial. We know that this deal with Blumhouse will equal much shared success.”

Said Blum: “I’m thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with Adam, Donna and the entire Universal team. I could not ask for a better home for Blumhouse Productions, and I look forward to the slate of films we will create together over the coming years.”