HHN29 Discussion: What’s Up With Warner Bros, Doc?

Warner Bros is perhaps as famous for its vast variety of cartoon characters as it is for its huge horror catalogue.  From Bugs Bunny to Jason Voorhees they are all stabled under the glorious umbrella at Warners.  With Fox being swallowed up by Disney, Universal getting just as aggressive in Central Florida as it is with its distribution of movies and IPs, it leaves Warners and the next big player in town.  And as of late it appears that Warners have made a few distinctive moves to keep their seat at the top of Tinsel Town, its these moves and their bearing on HHN that I wanted to discuss; so what is Warners up to….

The Catalyst?

Back in June last year AT&T have finally completed its $85BN buying of Time Warner Inc. making the final combination set of Warner Bros., HBO, DC Comics and Turner with AT&T’s leadership in technology and its video, mobile and broadband customer relationships.  With the prospect of ensuring that Warners can make, distribute and better control its properties to maximum commercial affect. And they wasted no time in getting the ball rolling…

Controlling Cable

AT&T, the new owners of Warners, have pulled HBO and Cinemax programs from the Dish Network Corp.’s satellite service after the companies failed to reach a new distribution agreement, setting up a giant rift between the companies as reported here on Bloomberg last November.

It is the first time in over 30 years that HBO has been pulled from a major distributor and the decision even got the Justice Department involved.

Leaving Netflix

With Disney rumoured to be pulling their shows from Netflix in order to start their own streaming service, it appears that Warners are about to undertake their own arrangement too.  Reported here, it appears Warners too will be pulling content from the world’s largest streaming service in order to offer their own new streaming facility where brand new and current HBO, DC and Warner shows will be exclusively streamed.

Starting their own version of HHN

Last year Warners successfully started their own version of HHN, called ‘Horror Made Here’ it also marked the first time since 2015 that Universal’s HHN didn’t have a Warner Bros property in their horror line-up (discounting Trick r Treat which although was distributed via Warners, it was made via Legendary Pictures who have contractual links to both companies).

Universal’s Naming of their New Park

Warners have long partnered with Universal with the likes of HHN or the Harry Potter additions to the parks.  However, the news broke last night from Park Rumors that shows that perhaps Warners might not be too happy about the proposed name for their new park.  Read more about the issue here where our buddy Brian has written up an interesting piece.

So where does this leave HHN?

Warners have a big library of horror, the majority of it was inherited when they respectively purchased both New Line Cinema (the basis of HHN17 was built around these properties in 2007) and DC Comics.  If Warners are now being more protective over their brands as seen in the examples from their article, it would appear that perhaps WB content will be pulled from future HHNs.

Which although some fans will say this is a bad thing because they won’t get Nun/IT/Jason/Freddy/Joker etc. maze, it will mean that future HHNs will likely have to focus on:

  • Original content (some of the best houses in HHN history have been original concepts, read more about them here).
  • Their own back catalogue of movies, notable their own heritage of horror (which was very successful in Hollywood’s HHN last year!)
  • Pulling properties from other production houses, though likely not from Fox as the mouse will be owning that very soon.
  • Smaller production houses/properties, such as the Killer Klowns (which was very awesome last year!)

So there you have it.  Warner Bros. is an evolving animal that is changing to meet the needs of the market, which is no bad thing, but only time will tell whether this is a good or bad thing for HHN.

Let us know in the comments what you think about Warners moves and what you would like to see for HHN29 or even HHN30!

Rumor: HHN Moving?

From a number of unknown sources we received a highly speculative rumor about HHN possibly moving location in Orlando.  The possible future home for the event could be the new, as yet unannounced, theme park that Universal are currently building rumored to be named ‘Universal’s Fantastic Worlds‘.

What we’ve seen…

It was leaked back in December by the above Twitter member that the new theme park coming soon to Central Florida would be named Fantastic Worlds and potentially be located down near the Orange County Convention Center off International Drive.

It was the same person, Alicia Stella, who also rumored that a new land for the forthcoming park COULD be themed to Universal Monsters.  Which would make sense as this is a property they own outright, whereas the rest of the park is rumored to be filled with IP properties that they are licensing from other companies (namely Mario and friends as per the image above).

The new rumor…

Well according to a small number of sources who have reached out to HHNU HQ, we could expect HHN to move to the new park once it is completed, say ready for HHN31 etc.

It would be interesting given that Islands of Adventure sits next to the main park and hasn’t been used for HHN in years.  However, both parks were NEVER designed with HHN in mind.  Both parks have used a combination of retro-fitting buildings, temporary structures (the Sprungs) or using the Soundstages, which due to HHN’s popularity of late, has caused one giant cluster-fudge right at the entrance to the event.

Whereas, a new larger park could be planned where buildings and lines for the houses could be anticipated and actively worked into the design of the new structures within the park.  That way houses could be more evenly spread throughout and possibly better infrastructure could be masterplanned to handle the huge crowds and security/bag-check issues found in recent times.  It does make sense.

Where the rumor does fall down a little, is that the new park will be stuffed full of new experiences (possible night shows for example?) and with most of the new attractions being third party IPs they might not like HHN coming in every Fall and changing up their brands (just like Dr. Suess’s area or even the Harry Potter additions supposedly didn’t in the past).

So there you have it!  Another juicy rumor to keep you going until the official announcements come very soon!

So what do you think?  Good idea?  Bigger and better haunts?  Or a mistep possibly leaving the old park behind?  Let us know!

And remember, nothing is confirmed or fact until Universal confirms it, just RUMORS!

HHN29 Rumor Round-up

The rumor scene has been very quiet over the last few weeks, so us here at HHNU HQ thought we would roundup all the best tidbits and info we could to see where we are so far, so here goes:

We got a great Christmas present from our Grand Water Rat (and editor) Chris Ripley when he posted just before Christmas a bunch of rumors that he had heard from a variety of sources:

He later clarified that the “no shows” was just he hadn’t heard anything about the shows and that he had heard that bookings for the on-site Universal hotels for the start of HHN29 were selling really well.  Talking of dates…

The start and end dates of the event were leaked and then subsequently confirmed by Universal.  You can read about that here.  The post also included a small online hint that perhaps one of the houses could be the new Halloween movie.

The next rumor that also spawned from an online hint suggested a return for The Shining house at Hollywood’s event, though this was very tenuous but it did add up!

HHNU broke the rumor news that many rumorists were reporting that Hellraiser was a potential IP being looked at for a potential dual-coast house.  This fascinating rumor was also released at the same time that Universal announced that its first IP for 2019 was in the bag.  You can make your own mind up hereHellraiser has been wildly rumored by HHNU for the last 3 years, following leaked correspondence online that showed high-level discussions having potentially taken place between the IP holder and associates of Universal.

A small rumor was received on the potential of Bill and Ted returning and a lengthy write-up of why you should become a UOAP for 2019 was published.

That’s it for now, we expect more info very soon and some insiders are pointing to an official announcement in February to keep pace with previous years.  So not long to wait now!  And as Chris says, nothing is confirmed or fact until Universal confirms it, just RUMORS!

Which properties and houses would you like to see at HHN29, let us know in the comments!

HHN29 Dates Leaked & New Halloween Rumor

Universal Orlando Resort updated it’s official website this week and it confirms the suspicions that we’ve reported on back in September this year where we expected HHN to start far earlier in 2019 than it has ever before. Here’s the screen grab:

With a September 6 start date that could potentially give us 40 horror filled nights of thrills (or maybe even more!) which is staggeringly high based on past years (just 34 last year). It also kinda confirms that no dual-park event is being planned with the event set to remain in the Studios Park.

So that’s the good news, so here’s the potential bad one…

We received a link to this tweet below by Hollywood’s supremo creative director for HHN John Murdy. And in response to our pal Dr Jimmy who was talking with him in regards to Disney, he wrote:

So is that the reason we didn’t get the new Halloween movie last year? The fact that it might have been blocked by the competing rodent up the street? Or was THIS the reason? And if Disney does have any say on the uses of this movie will that mean they’ll block it again for HHN29? Personally, I can’t see how the new Halloween has any business connections to Disney at all but hey?

Only time will tell…

So is September 6th too early? Or will 40+ nights of horrah be awesome? Let us know in the comments!

Jaws the Ride is Resurrected! Well kinda…

For seasoned HHN fans there was a tradition that had outlived any specialty beverage or Frankenstein novelty food item and that tradition was riding the “Shark in the Dark“.

Not heard of this? Well you must have started going to HHN after 2012 as that was the year that the Jaws Ride at Universal Orlando closed forever to make way for Diagon Alley (#BringBackJaws 😢).

Prior to this, devotees of this practice would wait until after dark and then venture onto the ride where a fresh new dynamic would be at play where it would be ever so slightly scarier due to the absence of natural light. Pepper in a few strategically placed Scareactors and this was THE best HHN tradition ever. Read more about the practice HERE.

This is why fans of the tradition were surprised to find out last week that our beloved Bruce (aka the Shark) has popped up from ‘beyond the grave’ at a restaurant in New York City!  It turns out that 494 Chicken restaurant on Staten Island has just purchased the only remaining complete 13ft long Shark from the ride (via a dealer in Maryland) and it is now on display within the restaurant.  You can read the original article here.

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Image courtesy of Staten Island Advance/ Victoria Priola

“I thought, ‘This is nuts, but if it’s the real thing, it’s worth a shot to check it out,’ and it definitely was,” said co-owner John Ryan. “We definitely got a few looks while driving. It’s not every day you see someone driving a truck with a shark hanging out of it.”

Relive the horror below:

Did you ever do the Shark in the Dark?  Will you be visiting this restaurant?  If so, let us know!

The Faces Behind Jack!

Jack the Clown has been haunting the attendees of Halloween Horror Nights since HHN10. The firm fan and guest favorite has largely been played by the same actor.

Since the very beginning he has been consistently played by James Keaton. Keaton has not just played Jack but a host of other Universal characters too, from mainstays such as The Grinch to random outings such as The Incredible Hulk.

And whereas Chris Ripley calls James the “Lon Chaney of our generation” he hasn’t always spent his time under the Jack greasepaint, as very occasionally, other actors have portrayed the maniacal clown, and some may surprise you!  These are:

1. Singapore Jack

In 2014 Jack appeared at HHN Singapore with his own house, Jack’s 3-Dementia, plus a new show Jack’s Nightmare Circus.

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Urm?  Photo courtsey of AspirantSG

2. WWE’s Mike Rome

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Credit: WWE

Mike was formerly a team member of Universal Orlando and during his time he donned the grease paint to become Jack on a number times, including during HHN25!

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Credit: Jason West

3. Mike Aiello

Mike Aiello aka the God of HHN recently revealed to his Twitter followers that he too used to portray everyone’s favorite clown when he was a scareactor back in the early 00s.  Upon releasing this info, many people also tweeted photos saying “is this you Mike?”  And many were!

And here’s another rare one of Mike…

4. The fans!

The only group of people to portray the character more frequently than Keaton are the fans!  Albeit unofficially, but featuring in conventions at home in Florida and even as far away as NYC’s Comic Con, fans have been portraying the character for the a number of years!

So there you have it! But let us know in the comments what your fav Jack was and which year?  And also, do you recognize any of the above fans?  We’d love to know!

Rumor: Here’s Johnny Again?

Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Twitter account posted the following strange message yesterday:

We know that pre-production for the event is in full swing and unlike the Orlando Twitter account, Hollywood likes to tease us fans with perfect timed, often incredibly difficult clues for us to try and unravel. Some clues are so impossible that they aren’t even solved to until after the event! And that’s exactly why this one is very strange, as it’s too easy! All three clues point to Kubrick’s The Shining. It was filmed in the late 70s, the carpet is very iconic, the wallpaper has been discussed at length to feature hidden messages (possibly about ancient Indian burial grounds etc) and as for Al Bowlly, well he has two songs that feature in this movie masterpiece.

BUT, for this early in the game, surely this has to be a huge red herring!? And then there’s Warner Bros, who last year kept all their properties for their own event in Burbank. So the likelihood of this property returning to HHN, combined with the fact that it featured only 2 years ago seems to make it unlikely to return. So it’s a puzzle wrapped in an enigma once more! Some people online are drawing conclusions that it could be linking to Netflix’s awesome new show The Haunting of Hill House but that’s a stretch from this one clue. HoHH is very popular, Netflix appear to be good partners of the event after the success of this year’s Stranger Things house and the show does borrow heavily from The Shining; but this is a huge leap right now! There is one possible clue that might throw water on The Shining speculation and that’s hidden in this later clue:

So to roundup, this first maze they’re working on is possibly linked to The Shining and it’s never been to HHN before…interesting times!

If we receive, see or hear anything further we’ll post it on HHNU, so keep your eyes peeled!  Until then, this is just speculation!

So what do you thank? Could it be The Haunting of Hill House or is The Shining returning? Let us know in the comments!

My Top Five Best ScareZone Episodes So Far

The ScareZone Podcast, HHNUnofficial’s sister podcast show has put out some great shows out over the last few years and some of the most highly downloaded episodes have been the interview shows.  With this in mind, I wanted to share with you my favorite shows for you to enjoy!  To listen to these shows now simply visit the Apple Podcast/iTunes app or listen now from the plugin below:

 

Here’s my list:

  1. Eileen Dietz

Eileen popped into the ScareZone Studio a couple of years ago to talk about her Hollywood career but to also discuss her roles in movie The Exorcist which had been a house presented at HHN26.  It was interesting hearing how she played both the Pazuzu (the main demon) and stand-in for Linda Blair.

  1. Leigh Whannell

The creator of SAW and many other iconic horror movies chatted to ScareZone in Episode 46.  He cited how he was literally thrown out of his own maze at HHN Hollywood and was humbled to hear that Chris Ripley thought his movie Dead Silence had made the greatest house ever at Orlando’s HHN.

  1. Gianni Garofalo (The Director)

Gianni was interviewed over a special two-part show (episodes 28 and 29) where he discussed becoming the iconic HHN icon The Director.  The other tales he told about the misadventures he and Dean Karr (the HHN commercials director) were also legendary and so funny; think Weekend at Bernie’s meets American Pie and they even featured a young Jennifer Aniston!

  1. James Keaton (Jack the Clown)

Our buddy James headed to the ScareZone Studio to recount his decades of service at Universal Studios Orlando bringing to life some of the most famous characters and monsters to ever grace the silver screen.  From Beetlejuice to The Grinch he’s played them all, but not forgetting everyone’s favorite icon Jack the Clown!

  1. Julie Zimmerman

Julie is to Halloween Horror Nights what Walt Disney is to Disneyland.  Right back in our very first full-length episode Julie came on to tell us all how it ‘all started with a rat!’

 

What’s your favorite episode of ScareZone?  Let us know in the comments!

 

UOAP Holder Sues Universal Over Historic Issue at HHN

An Universal Annual Passholder from Pasco County is suing Universal Orlando Resort, alleging injury caused due to negligence during Halloween Horror Nights.

The case has just been lodged with the Orange County Clerk but dates back to HHN24. Cast your minds back to HHN in 2014, that was the year of Aliens Vs Predator, Dollhouse of the Damned and the very first time the franchise of Halloween was presented at the event.

According to court files, Jessica Mattox Wilson filed a complaint back in October to the Court against Universal City Development Partners Ltd, who trade as Universal Orlando Resort, alleging that the event organizer of Halloween Horror Nights failed to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition back on one night in 2014.

According to the complaint, she and others were attending the event on October 31st, 2014, where she Wilson tripped on a steel tree grate portion of the sidewalk, which subsequently collapsed. Wilson had apparently been invited to the event by Universal as a business invitee. Apparently, she and others were walking between houses when she decided to take a bathroom break. Walking to the nearest bathroom she crossed the sidewalk where a tree grate cover was located and the grate gave way, locking her foot into the grate and slamming her person onto the concrete below.

The suit says Wilson sustained “severe, extensive, and permanent bodily injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and expenses for hospitalization, medical, nursing, physical therapy care and treatment”. She alleges the tree grate was broken and that Universal have a duty of care to ensure maintenance of such items to prevent accidents. The plaintiff alleges Universal Orlando Resort failed to provide a safe place for its invitees due to this one tree grate and had failed to warn the plaintiff and others of the unsafe, defective and dangerous condition that it was in.

She alleges that her injuries were so bad that the UOAP passholder passes that her and her immediate family own have been wasted as none of them were able to use them for the rest of their respective durations. She is currently demanding a trial by jury and damages exceeding $15,000. She is also representing herself at court as the case is currently continuing.

We will bring you more information on this as we hear it…

For more information visit the Orange County Court Clerk’s Record Office.

HHN Secures First IP for HHN29

News came last night that Universal have apparently just locked in their first IP property for the 2019 edition of HHN.

Obviously, we’re not told yet what it is yet but it was teased via Universal’s John Murdy on the official Hollywood HHN handle on Twitter:

A nice and early property in the bag is great as now the idea can be worked on and developed in time for HHN29 / HHN2019.

But what could this property be? Rumors are swirling at the moment and many are speculating that after last year’s absence of Warner Bros and Fox properties at HHN that this trend could continue.

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Horror Made Here exclusively used properties from Warner Bros, New Line Cinema and DC to fill their streets and mazes

Why are these properties supposedly not in contention? Well it’s only speculation but last year Warner Bros held their own event, Horror Made Here in Burbank, California. Many commentators said at the time that perhaps they wanted to hold onto their own properties for exclusive use to really kick their new event off in style, plus HHN Hollywood is only a short car ride away. And as for Fox, well who knows what’s happening there, Disney are buying Fox and I’m sure they’d love their Central Florida competitors using their newly acquired properties…

So if we assume Warner Bros and Fox are off-the-table, what properties could be coming to HHN? There is one property that’s been speculated about for years and we know HHN takes years to secure the best properties!  We also know that the gentleman behind this franchise has a long association with HHN (read more here and here) and he

That property is rumored to be HellraiserHHNU first broke the rumors back in 2017 when a number of factors pointed to possible meetings being held to discuss the potential use of the franchise at HHN. To read our original article from Chris Ripley click HERE.

But there’s more clues… On the latest edition of Universal After Dark Chris Ripley, Boston White and the team discussed these clues and what it could mean for HHN29. Click HERE to listen now.

One of these clues we’ll share with you now…

Look closely at this recently posted photo by HHN’s Mike Aiello. Those DVDs are all in alphabetical order, except the ones at the end where we can assume are all ones that have been recently watched or maybe newly acquired (the tweet refers to this)… there sure are a few Hellraiser ones there! But surely this is just a coincidence right? Remember, everything is just a speculative rumor until Universal confirms the line-up next year!

But if you want to know the true identity of the property that’s just been secured you then need to watch this video!!  😆 😆 😆

So there you have it, a nice bit of early speculation to kick-off the beginning of the HHN rumor season. Are we right though? Let’s us know your thoughts and let us know which properties you’d love to see at HHN29!