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The Woods is really a stealth Blair Witch Project reboot

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This is unexpected: The Woods, an upcoming found-footage horror film is going to be a direct sequel to the 1999 horror blockbuster The Blair Witch Project. The revelation was unveiled during the film's initial screening at San Diego Comic Con, which coincided with the film's real title: Blair Witch.

Blair Witch picks up years after the events of the first film when one of its characters discovers footage that appears to show Heather Donahue, his long-lost sister and lead character of the original film. When he and a group of friends set off into the Black Hills Forest to try and find out what happened to her, they’re visited by a malevolent presence.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Blair Witch was intended as a sequel of the original film from its inception, and is designed to reboot the franchise. Directed by Adam Wingard, the film was shot last year in Canada under the working title The Woods. Its connections to the 1999 film were kept under extremely tight wraps — only a select group of people knew the true nature of the film they were shooting.

Only a select group of people knew the true nature of the film they were shooting

This isn’t the first sequel to The Blair Witch Project; a sequel titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released in 2000 and largely abandoned the found-footage style of the original. It performed modestly at the box office and received relatively negative reviews from critics. A third sequel was planned in 2009, but was eventually abandoned.

Rebooting the franchise makes a considerable amount of sense for Lionsgate. Found-footage horror films are incredible money makers for studios, because they can be filmed reasonably cheaply and tend to do well at the box office. The Blair Witch Project was the film that started the craze off years ago, earning $248 million worldwide on a $60,000 budget.

Blair Witch will be released to theaters on September 16th.