The Big Picture
- The Exorcist: Believer is the franchise’s second-biggest installment at the global box office, but it hasn’t performed as well as expected.
- Despite topping the box office last weekend, the film has received poor reviews and faced a significant drop in attendance after being overshadowed by Taylor Swift’s concert film.
- The original Exorcist film’s success and cultural impact have loomed large over the franchise, making it difficult for any sequels to live up to its legacy.
While director David Gordon Green’s The Exorcist: Believer can now celebrate becoming the franchise’s second-biggest installment at the global box office, much like its first-place debut just over a week ago, the victory is bittersweet. It’s plain and simple after 10 days of release, the legacy sequel isn’t quite performing as well as anybody involved would’ve liked. Neither critics nor fans seem to be impressed with the film which topped the box office last weekend with $26 million, but opened to poor reviews that it hasn’t been able to bounce back from.
The Exorcist: Believer finished second at the domestic box office this weekend, after registering a hefty 58% drop and being all but eviscerated by Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. The film has earned $44 million domestically, in addition to another $40 million from overseas territories, for a cumulative global haul of just under $84.9 million. While this would be an excellent result for any other horror sequel that cost a reported $30 million to produce, this is the Exorcist franchise we’re talking about.
Sure, none of the Exorcist sequels have been able to live up to the landmark performance of the original film, directed by the late William Friedkin and released exactly 50 years ago. But the shadow that the original Exorcist cast over pop-culture is simply too large to ignore. The film grossed a then-record $440 million worldwide, and scored 10 Oscar nominations. It also became the first horror movie to earn a Best Picture nod at the Oscars, which was an immensely pivotal moment for genre cinema as a whole.
The Franchise Is Facing an Uphill Climb
But in typical industry fashion, the franchise was driven into the ground with a series of sub-par sequels starting with Exorcist II: The Heretic ($30 million worldwide in 1977), The Exorcist III ($44 million in 1990), and the prequel, Exorcist: The Beginning ($78 million globally in 2004). The Beginning was excavated from a fully-shot film turned in by Paul Schrader, which was given a token theatrical release a year later as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist after being considered too esoteric.
Green and Blumhouse devised The Exorcist: Believer as a new trilogy-starter, following the blueprint of their rebooted Halloween series. Universal reportedly shelled out $400 million for the rights to the franchise alone, but the studio is free to monetize it beyond theatrical films, which seems like something that it will have to do, considering how this film has performed both critically and commercially. A direct sequel titled The Exorcist: Deceiver has already been dated for 2025. Stay tuned to Collider for more updates.