Academy Award-nominated producer Jason Blum is the modern horror genre’s most successful and prolific filmmaker, with his eponymous Blumhouse Productions having launched the highly profitable “Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity,” and “The Purge” movie franchises, not to mention ludicrously lucrative standalone thrillers like “Whiplash,” “Sinister,” and the 2018 remake of “Halloween.” Just two of his films alone — 2016’s “Split” and 2017’s “Get Out” — have grossed more than $500 million at the box office, launched on a combined budget of just $13.5 million.
That sort of success has beget Blum’s frenzied acquisition of trophy real estate. Though the auteur already owns at least three other lavish homes, he’s now paid $14.3 million for one of the more idiosyncratic properties on L.A.’s Westside: a modernist compound tucked into rustic Santa Monica Canyon. Gated and secured by an elaborate alarm system, the estate is wondrously secluded, sited at the very end of a long cul-de-sac and behind a long driveway. It’s also got a unique, only-in-L.A. sort of pedigree.
In the late 1970s, filmmaker John Whitney engaged Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry to design him a residential compound that consisted of a series of separate but visually related structures. The finished project, completed in 1981, was one of Gehry’s earliest works and became known — somewhat unimaginatively — as the John Whitney Residence, or alternatively as House for a Filmmaker.
By the late ’80s, Whitney had tired of the hassles that came from living in a chopped-up house. He engaged architect Mark Mack to give Gehry’s project a thorough remodel, which combined the formerly separate structures into one large mansion with a vaguely Streamline Moderne appearance.
Since the remodel, the house has sold several times. Before Blum’s big purchase, the most recent deal went down in 2005, when the house was acquired for $4.55 million by prominent and politically-influential businessman Keith Brackpool.
In 2009, Brackpool paid another $2.2 million to acquire the modest property immediately next door, which consisted of a two-bedroom midcentury modern home. He subsequently rebuilt the midcentury as a rustic guesthouse and combined the two lots into one fortified compound.
And back in fall 2018, Brackpool put the entire one-acre property on the market with a heady $18.5 million asking price. But it didn’t sell for a full 1.5 years, until Blum came along and snapped it up at a significant discount. Still, the sale ranks as one of 2020’s biggest Westside real estate transactions.
Described in the listing as “nothing short of transportive,” the verdantly-landscaped compound offers towering native sycamore trees and a circular motorcourt lined with crunchy pea gravel. Inside the greenhouse-like main house, sunlight filters in through numerous skylights, imbuing the place with a museum-like vibe that’s only enhanced by the double-height gallery. Long hallways and polished concrete floors are everywhere, and some of the more notable amenities include a cook’s kitchen swaddled in cobalt blue cabinetry, an outdoor movie theater with firepit and a master suite with canyon views.
In contrast to the sleekly modern main mansion, the woodsy guesthouse is more akin to a chic treehouse, and contains a wraparound deck overlooking a jazzed-up putting green area, another full kitchen with center island, a fireplace-equipped living room and massive gym.
One of the property’s borders is shared with a natural creek, which gurgles down a ravine and serves as home to thousands of croaking frogs and burping toads that all combine to provide a glorious symphony at night. But despite the property’s secluded feel, it’s still only a short, breezy walk to the Pacific Ocean — not to mention lovely local restaurants like Giorgio Baldi and shops at the Palisades Village scene.
In addition to his new $14.3 million digs in Santa Monica, Blum still owns at least $26 million in other luxury real estate. Two years ago, he paid $9.5 million for a massive historic mansion in Hancock Park’s guard-gated Fremont Place enclave, and he still has a $6.4 million penthouse condo at Downtown L.A.’s exclusive Ritz-Carlton Residences. And last year, he amped up another $10 million for a contemporary townhouse on a particularly good street in New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood.
Cindy Ambuehl of Compass and Blair Chang of The Agency held the listing; Eric Lavey of The Agency repped Blum.