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In the beginning of Book of Shadows, some reports are shown about the original Blair Witch Project, claiming that the town of Burkittsville was filled with believers wanting to explore the town.

The poor town of Burkittsville suddenly found itself overrun with Blair Witch groupies, wandering around in the woods, trying to find the 'real' places where the story had happened.

Did people at the time really believe that The Blair Witch Project was real? Was it because it was the first fount-footage kind of movie out there? Or was it really advertised as a documentary? Didn't a quick Internet (maybe not so quick in 1999) search show the actors' and director's names?

Why did people really believe The Blair Witch Project at the time of its release?

  • Do they have to believe it to be real to want to visit where it was filmed? To find the exact locations in the forest where certain scenes occurred? – JAB May 31 '17 at 21:53
  • @JAB You have a point. In the Book of Shadows movie, they was portrayed as fanatics that really believed it, but that might have been just movie footage. – BlueMoon93 May 31 '17 at 21:57
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Before when The Blair Witch Project was released, the marketing for the film was quite unique at the time. The hype surrounding the film was that it was real and based off a true story. It was indeed marketed as a real documentary and was one of the first found footage films out there. enter image description here

The producers even went as far as creating a website with additional photos, "evidence", bios of the filmmakers and more to help with the realism. A TV special mockumentary entitled "Curse of the Blair Witch" was also released which followed the "investigation into the disappearance of the three film makers."

Also fliers were distributed making it seem like the three actors were indeed really missing:

enter image description here

"During screenings, the filmmakers made advertising efforts to promulgate the events in the film as factual, including the distribution of flyers at festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, asking viewers to come forward with any information about the "missing" students." Source

Many people fell for the marketing ploy that the Blair Witch was real, and back then the internet was not as prominent as it is in today's world for finding out information. But even the IMDb page for the three actors stated they were missing and presumed dead.

People also really did come to Burkitsville:

"Burkittsville was swarmed. Cars and tour buses jammed Main Street. Residents couldn't get into their driveways. Souvenir hunters dug up cemetery dirt. Tombstones were vandalized. Kids, accustomed to riding their bikes with no hands down the farm alleys, were instructed never to play outside alone. Debby Burgoyne, the current mayor and a Girl Scout leader, found a strange man standing in her living room one morning. He thought there was a tour. "It was crazy," Burgoyne said. "People with cameras were everywhere. I made sure I had full makeup and a great nightie before I went out to get the morning paper.""

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    It's worth noting that the "report" at the start of Book of Shadows, where it was claimed that groupies and believers were flocking to Burkittsville, may have been completely made up. That storytelling approach has been used as far back as Casablanca, which started with fake "newsreel" footage to make the story seem more grounded in reality. – BrettFromLA May 31 '17 at 23:29
  • Sounds like they really did flock there. articles.latimes.com/2010/may/31/nation/… – followthemeow May 31 '17 at 23:42
  • I also seem to recall, a few years after the movie, there was a direct-to-video "expose" debunking the film as fiction. And then six months or so after that, there was a "new evidence" video to claim it was all real... They were just trolling back and forth by the end of it, to see how long they could keep people engaged. – Steve-O Jun 1 '17 at 0:00
  • I think most people knew when it came out, that it was fiction. That said, I did have a friend who thought it was real and went so far as to suggest that we go camping there with a gun to 'get the Blair Witch'. It would have been a 2 hour trip (give or take) for us at the time. I remember telling him that it was fake and even if he believe it was real, what good would bringing a gun do? – Phlegon_of_Tralles Jun 1 '17 at 12:02

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