The Big Picture
- The Exorcist: Believer, the new legacy sequel, aims to attract a new generation of fans to the franchise with a Thursday preview gross of $2.85 million.
- Despite toxic reviews, the film is projected to open between $30 million and $35 million over the weekend.
- Directed by David Gordon Green, the film is part of a planned trilogy and follows the story of two girls who go missing and return with no memory, leading to a confrontation with evil.
Half a century after the release of the landmark horror film The Exorcist, the new legacy sequel, The Exorcist: Believer, is hoping to attract a new generation of fans to the franchise. The film grossed $2.85 million in Thursday previews that began at 5 p.m. in a little over 3,000 domestic theaters. This is only marginally higher than the $2 million that last week’s Saw X made in previews. The Exorcist: Believer is tracking to open between $30 million and $35 million over the weekend, although it remains to be seen if it’ll be affected by the toxic reviews that it has generated. The film currently sits at a “rotten” 20% score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with Collider’s Chase Hutchinson calling it a “soulless horror sequel.”
Directed by David Gordon Green, who is coming off of a trilogy of Halloween movies, The Exorcist: Believer is supposed to spawn a trilogy of its own. Universal secured the rights to the franchise a couple of years ago after shelling out a reported $400 million, which is only slightly under the then-record worldwide gross of The Exorcist, which stands at $441 million. Released in 1973 and directed by the late, great William Friedkin, the film is widely regarded as the greatest horror title in history.
The Exorcist spawned a franchise that, in typical Hollywood fashion, was beat into the ground by a series of underwhelming sequels. Directed by John Boorman, The Exorcist II: The Heretic was released in 1977; it was followed by William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III in 1990, and the fourth film in 2004. Exorcist: The Beginning was retooled from an already complete version directed by Paul Schrader, which ultimately got a token release a year later, as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. A television spinoff, also titled The Exorcist, ran for two seasons between 2016 and 2017.
What Is The Exorcist: Believer About?
Starring Leslie Odom, Jr. as a man named Victor, The Exorcist: Believer traces the story of two young girls — Victor’s daughter Angela and her friend Katherine — who go missing in the woods, “only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them.” Their experience unleashes a chain of events that forces Victor to “confront the nadir of evil” and seek out “the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before”: Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn). Chris’ daughter, Regan, was possessed by the demon Pazuzu in the original Exorcist film.
The Exorcist: Believer also features Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, Hereditary) as Victor’s neighbor, and Grammy winner Jennifer Nettles (Harriet, The Righteous Gemstones) and two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Fosse/Verdon, Bloodline) as the parents of Katherine, Angela’s friend. Incidentally, The Exorcist: Believer’s release is coinciding with the debut of Friedkin’s final film, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, which will land posthumously on Paramount+ on Friday. Stay tuned to Collider for more updates.