Just like he did for John Carpenter's Halloween, writer-director-producer David Gordon Green will officially revive The Exorcist franchise this fall (Oct. 13 to be exact) with a brand-new film that effectively ignores the sequels that followed the original groundbreaking film.
Unlike the filmmaker's recent trip to Haddonfield, however, The Exorcist: Believer will purportedly not harken back to the previously-established canon it seeks to erase.
Why The Exorcist: Believer is not full of Easter eggs
"It’s not an Easter eggy movie," Green — who also co-wrote the project alongside Peter Sattler — told IGN while breaking down the movie's first trailer. "I had a lot of fun seeing what some of the old cast were up to [in Halloween], and making callbacks to all of the Halloween movies. The Exorcist isn’t that type of fun. The Exorcist is more academic and psychologically horrific."
He later continued: “I didn’t want this to be a movie I was fabricating a lot of mythology for. [We aimed for] less popcorn entertainment, and more researched, emotionally triggering storytelling."
In an effort to underscore this grounded approach, Green used as many practical effects as possible, especially once the two little girls (Olivia Marcum and Lidya Jewett) start to show outward signs of demonic possession. Speaking with LRMonline, the director recalled how special makeup effects artist Christopher Nelson closely studied the iconic work of Dick Smith featured in the 1973 original.
"He did a great job at trying to be the same but different," Green explained, going on to add: "A lot of our, if not all of our, most of our effects are all done in-camera with some minor digital augmentation. But for the most part, we’re trying to keep it really grounded and not have it turn into a big computer-generated special effects, supernatural movie, trying to keep it grounded in terms of our narrative, our characters, the storyline, and then the execution as well."
How many Exorcist movies are there?
The Exorcist was followed by a total of four movies — two sequels and two prequels — all of which failed to reach the critical, financial, and cultural impact of their 1973 predecessor. Indeed, the first movie remained the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all time until the release of Andy Muschietti's IT Chapter One in 2017.
Linda Blair, who served as a technical consultant on Believer, reprised the character of Regan MacNeil in the first follow-up film, 1977's Exorcist II: The Heretic, which did not have the involvement of director William Friedkin or The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty. The latter went so far as to completely ignore the events of Heretic when he signed on to both write and direct 1990's The Exorcist III.
While these sequels didn't leave much of an impression upon their initial openings, they did gain sizable cult followings in the decades that followed. A pair of prequels starring Stellan Skarsgård as a young Father Merrin (played by Max von Sydow in the '73 film) — Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist — followed in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
The IP made its way to the small screen in 2016 with a short-lived television series developed by future Moon Knight head writer Jeremy Slater. Centered around a duo of priests (Alfonso Herrera's Father Tomas Ortega and Ben Daniels' Father Marcus Keane) investigating cases of demonic possession, the series adaptation ran on Fox for a total of 20 episodes across two seasons.
When does The Exorcist: Believer open in theaters?
Based on a screen story by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, Firestarter), The Exorcist: Believer arrives in theaters everywhere Friday, October 13 by way of Universal Pictures, Blumhouse, and Morgan Creek Entertainment.
A sequel — titled The Exorcist: Deceiver — is tentatively slated to open on April 18, 2025. The title and release date (tentative or otherwise) for the third movie have not been announced yet.