For horror fans, The Exorcist holds a rarified place within the genre. The exquisitely crafted 1973 film, directed by William Friedkin and based on William Peter Blatty’s book (which was based on a true story), was the first horror movie to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture—yet it didn’t hold back on the scares. So it was only a matter of time before someone came along and bought the rights to tinker with it.
On Monday, The New York Times announced that Universal Pictures and its Peacock streaming arm were shelling out a reported $400 million to snatch up the rights to The Exorcist trilogy (yes, there were two other films—not to mention a couple of prequels, none of which came close to living up to the groundbreaking original). That’s a lot of cans of Andersen’s pea soup. According to Brooks Barnes, a reporter for The New York Times:
Universal’s decision to revisit The Exorcist is striking in and of itself. The R-rated 1973 film about a baffled mother (Ellen Burstyn) and her demonically possessed daughter (Linda Blair) was a global box office sensation — “the biggest thing to hit the industry since Mary Pickford, popcorn, pornography and The Godfather,” as Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times in 1974. It has become a cultural touchstone, the type of film that fans and critics guard as sacrosanct.
Yet the company was smart enough to tie the acquisition announcement to the news that the trilogy would be put into the hands of David Gordon Green, the indie filmmaker-turned-legendary-horror-franchise rebooter responsible for 2018’s well-received Halloween (as well as its upcoming pair of sequels). Green will be joined again by Danny McBride, who co-wrote and executive produced the Halloween trilogy, and Ellen Burstyn will reprise her role as Chris MacNeil, a hotshot actress and mom to demonic tween Regan MacNeil (played by Linda Blair in the original). But don’t call it a reboot: Universal has confirmed that the trilogy will be a “continuation” of the original film. And presumably ignore the fact that The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Exorcist III, and/or any of its prequels even existed (just as most audiences did).
The movie is set to star Hamilton’s Leslie Odom, Jr., who’ll play a dad trying to track down Burstyn’s character for some much-needed help and advice about his own demonic spawn. (Remove any crucifixes from the room should be first on Chris’ list of to-dos.) The first film in the trilogy is scheduled to be released in theaters in late 2023, with the latter two movies possibly going straight to streaming on Peacock. Let the pea soup fly!
(Via The New York Times)