EXCLUSIVE: After Universal decided to go early with The Exorcist: Believer, the Blumhouse/Morgan Creek sequel reboot is eyeing a $30M+ opening on tracking, Deadline has learned from sources.
Currently we hear the R-rated movie is great with women under 25 in terms of first choice and unaided awareness (that potent polling quotient that’s able to cite a movie title as their must-see, without being prodded in a survey), and that it’s looking similar to Paramount/Spyglass’ 2022 Scream which debuted to $30M.
Even if Exorcist: Believer opens in the high $20Ms, Uni/Blumhouse/Morgan Creek can still easily declare that it’s a record opening for the franchise. While the legendary pic’s heyday was in 1973 with the original being ultimately grossing a lifetime of $233M stateside, box office opening weekends weren’t recorded nationally at that point in time by the industry. 1990’s Exorcist III opened to $9.3M, by far the biggest debut for an Exorcist movie, and legged out to $26M; while the 2000 re-release of the original pic was a cash cow at the fall box office bowing to $8.1M and grossing $39.4M.
Universal got a hold of the franchise global rights to the Exorcist for $400M in partnership with Blumhouse, Morgan Creek and streaming service Peacock. At the time it was announced that Ellen Burstyn who played Chris MacNeil, the mother of the demon-possessed child in the first movie, would reprise that role which which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nominee. Burstyn did not participate in any of the previous – and mostly panned – Exorcist sequels or prequels, which included Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Exorcist III (1990), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005).
It was also announced that director David Gordon Green, who together with story by guy Danny McBride, were behind the recently rebooted Jamie Lee Curtis return Halloween trilogy (which grossed just under a half billion worldwide at $497.6M) would be taking on similar behind-the-camera roles on The Exorcist: Believer.
Universal moved Exorcist: Believer from Oct. 13 to Oct. 6 after AMC plopped Taylor Swift: Eras Tour concert film on the horror pic’s original release date. As we told you yesterday, presales for Eras Tour are at $65M for the top three circuits, Canada’s Cineplex and Mexico’s Cinépolis, which many believe will result in a $100M+ opening for the concert movie.
The Exorcist: Believer‘s protagonist is Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who, since the death of his pregnant wife in a Haitian earthquake 12 years ago, has raised their daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett) on his own. But when Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum) disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, it unleashes a chain of events that will force Victor to confront the nadir of evil and, in his terror and desperation, seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil.
Pic also stars Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), Jennifer Nettles (Harriet) and Norbert Leo Butz (Fosse/Verdon).