In the past four years, The Purge franchise has racked up over $330 million at the worldwide box office (with one film currently still in theaters), peddling a unique mixture of horror, action and social commentary that has only grown more resonant against a backdrop of nationalistic political animus.
Now it’s coming to the small screen as well, in the form of a 10-episode series set to premiere on September 4. “The movies (have been) growing in popularity, particularly internationally, and I think that has something to do with the fact that, internationally, people are laughing at the United States, as well they should be,” said franchise producer Jason Blum in a recent conversation at the HFPA’s Comic-Con lounge. “And the idea that James (DeMonaco) came up with for The Purge is such a rich, interesting idea, I thought it would be really interesting to explore it as a series while the franchise was still culturally relevant.”
That idea sprang from personal experience. “The seed of it was something my wife said in a road rage incident,” said DeMonaco, who wrote and directed the first three films in the franchise and will serve as executive producer on the TV series. “We were in Brooklyn driving, and there was a drunk driver who I got into a fight with. He was crazy, and after it was over we were very upset. And my wife said, ‘I wish we all had one free one, or one legal one, a year.’ And she’s a nice woman so she really didn’t mean that,” continued DeMonaco with a laugh. “But it stayed with me — just the concept of this holiday, where the government said, ‘Hey, do what you will, without any punishment.’”
“And I have always been anti-gun, but then I was living in Paris for eight months, and the Parisians — no one owned guns. I had family in Italy too, and (their perspective was) just so much different than America’s views on violence and guns.” DeMonaco concluded. “So as someone who has always been anti-guns, this perfect storm of ideas led to this — what I thought was a great metaphor for the gun control laws in America or lack thereof.”