In fairness, “The Exorcist” is one of the most successful horror films in history, becoming the first film in the genre ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars before eventually earning $441 million worldwide to date through its various re-releases. But every other film in the series has been critically-panned, a financial letdown, or both. Yes, “The Exorcist III” has its fans but it only made $25 million.
Admittedly, Universal is expecting “Believer” and its sequels to bring a lot of value to its streaming service Peacock. Be that as it may, a $30 million opening — on the optimistic side of things — leaves a long way to go before the studio can call this a win. The key is that audiences need to show up for two more movies as well in the coming years. “The Exorcist: Deceiver” is already scheduled for 2025.
“Believer” centers on Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) whose daughter Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum), disappear in the woods, returning three days later with no memory of what happened to them. This unleashes a chain of events that leads him to seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil. Ellen Burstyn is reprising her role as Chris MacNeil for the first time since the original “Exorcist,” which is no small thing.
It certainly doesn’t help that this year’s Halloween season is crowded. We’ve got “Saw X” opening this weekend, with “The Nun II” already in theaters, while “Five Nights at Freedy’s” is set for later in the month. Not to mention the fact that Taylor Swift’s concert documentary already forced “Believer” to move up its release date. There’s a reason Jason Blum has called this the riskiest movie Blumhouse has ever made. Will that risk pay off? We’ll know soon enough.
“The Exorcist: Believer” terrorizes theaters on October 6, 2023.