Considered one of the greatest horror classics in the history of cinema, The Exorcist (1973) will win a trilogy that will serve as a sequel to the original feature. Universal Pictures acquired the screening rights to the franchise’s new films in a $400 million ($2 billion) deal and will release them directly on Peacock, the in-house streaming service that rivals Netflix.
Universal acquired the project in partnership with Blumhouse and Morgan Creek, producers known for making films in the genre. The strategy will be the same used with the Halloween franchise, which won a new trilogy started in 2018 and serves as a continuation of the original feature.
To lead the project, Universal has cast David Gordon Green, the creative mind behind the new Halloween trilogy. He will be director of the first film and executive producer. The studio has not said whether he will remain in charge of subsequent titles.
Veteran Ellen Burstyn, who played Chris MacNeil, the mother of the possessed girl in Linda Blair’s The Exorcist, will reprise her role in the new films. Nominated for a 2021 Oscar for best supporting role, Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) is also cast.
It is the first time that Ellen returns to one of the most important roles of her career. She was left out of all film-produced sequels and spin-offs of the original film: The Exorcist 2: The Heretic (1997), The Exorcist 3 (1990), The Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and Dominion: Before the Exorcist (2005).
In the original plot, an actress (Ellen Burstyn) needed the help of two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) after their daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), was possessed by a demon named Pazuzu.
The first feature in the trilogy is set to premiere in theaters on October 13, 2023. The two sequels will have simultaneous or exclusive premieres for Peacock, according to information from The New York Times. The acquisition for US$ 400 million places the business as one of the biggest values ever moved by a streaming service.
“There’s no better time to join forces with the Peacock and Universal teams and finally start working with my friends at Blumhouse than on this classic franchise. David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Scott Teems and Peter Sattler created a sequel. This iconic tale is compellingly compelling and I can’t wait to introduce it to fans around the world,” said David Robinson, president of Morgan Creek, in an official statement.
The Exorcist was the highest-grossing horror film in cinema history at $441 million (R$2.2 billion) for 44 years, until it was surpassed in 2017 by It: The Thing ($701 million). The franchise even yielded a TV series on Fox that ran for two seasons and had Alfonso Herrera (Rebel, Sense 8) in the cast.
The feature was the first Oscar-nominated horror production for best film. In the 1974 edition, he competed in nine other categories and won two trophies: adapted script and sound editing. At the Golden Globes of the same year, he won four awards, including best dramatic film.