The Beginning of “Reality”

On this day in 1999, The Blair Witch Project was released in theaters.  I remember taking my husband and his friend to see it at the Tara Theater on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta at midnight a couple of days after it opened.  It was midnight, and there was a line around the building.  That is crazy.

When I look back on it, that movie seems to me to be the beginning of this whole faux-reality thing that so many people enjoy today.  The whole thing was made up, but it was filmed and prompted and contrived to appear to be real, and people bought it.  Maybe Blair Witch made Survivor, The Bachelor, and Real Housewives possible … or at least set the stage for them.  (The first US season of Survivor aired in 2000, The Bachelor in 2002, and Real Housewives in 2006.) 

Blair Witch also tapped into another new-ish phenomenon:  it is said to have been the first thing to go viral.  An independent film with a small budget, it grossed nearly $250.