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The Exorcist | Universal/Blumhouse/Peacock | October 13, 2023 | David Gordon Green directs, Leslie Odom Jr. stars | They spent 400M on this

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https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/26/business/exorcist-new-trilogy.html?smid=tw-share

 

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LOS ANGELES — Heads are spinning in Hollywood: Universal Pictures and its streaming-service cousin have closed a $400 million-plus megadeal to buy a new “Exorcist” trilogy, signaling a sudden willingness to compete head-on with the technology giants that are upending entertainment industry economics.

 

Donna Langley, the film studio’s chairwoman, teamed with Peacock, NBCUniversal’s fledgling streaming service, to make the purchase, which is expected to be announced this week, according to three people briefed on the matter. These people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the still-private deal, said the price was in the vicinity of the $465 million that Netflix paid in March for two sequels to the 2019 whodunit “Knives Out.”

 

The “Knives Out” and “Exorcist” deals — both negotiated by Bryan Lourd, the Creative Artists superagent — solidify a new streaming gold rush. The eye-popping talent paydays of 2017 and 2018, when Netflix scooped up big-name television creators, have migrated to the film world.

 

It is surprising, however, that Universal and Peacock have come to the table in such a major way. NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, has started to devote more resources to the little-watched Peacock. Programming from the Tokyo Olympics is available on the service, for instance. But Hollywood has heretofore viewed the year-old Peacock as unwilling to compete for top-tier movie deals.

 

Universal is not remaking “The Exorcist,” which was directed by William Friedkin from a screenplay that William Peter Blatty adapted from his own novel. But the studio will, for the first time, return the Oscar-winning Ms. Burstyn to the franchise. (Two forgettable “Exorcist” sequels and a prequel were made without her between 1977 and 2004.) Joining her will be Leslie Odom Jr., a Tony winner for “Hamilton” on Broadway and a double Oscar nominee for “One Night in Miami.” He will play the father of a possessed child. Desperate for help, he tracks down Ms. Burstyn’s character.

 

Suffice it to say, Satan is not thrilled to see her again.

 

David Gordon Green, known for Universal’s blockbuster 2018 reboot of the “Halloween” horror franchise, will direct the new “Exorcist” films and serve as a screenwriter. The horror impresario Jason Blum (“Get Out,” the “Purge” series) is among the producers, along with David Robinson, whose company, the independent Morgan Creek Entertainment, has held the “Exorcist” movie rights. The Blumhouse film executive Couper Samuelson is among the executive producers. (Blumhouse has a first-look deal with Universal.)

 

The first film in the trilogy is expected to arrive in theaters in late 2023. Under the terms of the deal, the second and third films could debut on Peacock, according to one of the people briefed on the matter.

 

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I love The Exorcist and The Exorcist 3, and I’d love to see them do another genuinely good sequel, but I can’t help but feel like a trilogy is over-extending themselves. Just make one good movie and then make sequels if they warrant it. 
 

Potentially dumping the second and third films in this trilogy to Peacock sounds like the dumbest idea ever though. 

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5 minutes ago, Elessar said:

The original is one of the most effective horror movies. I'm definitely curious what they will do with it...

The one thing I'm curious about is I feel there's a pretty good chance they won't go too over the top with it, which would be a refreshing change for possession movies lately, and it'd be neat to see what that might look like for an Exorcist sequel.

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Oh dear god, I started thinking about what they could possibly do with Ellen Burstyn for this film (or the whole trilogy? First I thought she might be called in as an expert on the lore like Spock in Into Darkness, and I laughed to myself at how shit that would be. Chris MacNeil was a working actress and a mother in the first film, not the titular exorcist lol. And then I put myself in the mindset of a hackneyed Hollywood writer (not saying that's what we'll have for this), and a terrible but funnily plausible idea hit me;  Is the hackneyed path they'll take with her character... that the events of the first film did such a toll on her (understandable) that she has now spent the last 50 years to become an exorcist herself, in the path of Father Merrin? Is Ellen Burstyn gonna be the the titular Exorcist for this trilogy? It would definitely be following in the footsteps of what they did with Laurie Strode in Hallowen '18 lol, but it would be much worse.

 

A criticism people have about the '73 film is that Chris MacNeil basically takes a backseat in the third act of the film, despite being the central character for the first two. I occasionally agree with it, despite the film being possibly my favorite of all-time, but a more hackneyed Hollywood script would force her into the exorcism. It feels far more natural and believable that she wouldn't be involved, and by that point the film has already done a stellar job building up Father Karras as a secondary protagonist that we don't feel lost when it switches almost entirely to his point of view. ...But I could definitely see wheels turning when a group of writers try to crack a story for a sequel 50 years later, lmao. "How about we do justice by Chris MacNeil and have her be the exorcist!"

 

I've been laughing to myself about this the whole day, but I do believe they'll be smarter than that... I hope. Have a new character be the exorcist, and tell us Chris MacNeil lived a happy life, free from evil. But the fact that it's gonna be a whole trilogy is supremely baffling.

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Just now, dudalb said:

400 Million for three films is not all that bad given what a tentpole movie costs nowdays.

But wonder if this is the right material for a trilogy of films, given how the  sequels to the 1973 movie worked out.

Not to mention that horror films about Exorcism have become a dime a dozen now days. And most of them cost a lot less then 135 Million a film.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Plain Old Tele said:

It’s not 400m as a production budget, apparently — it’s 400m for the RIGHTS. 

 

IP!!! Content!!!  Between this and A24's small catalogue being shopped for billions I bet a lot of top suits in the industry are getting fired in a couple of years.

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On 7/28/2021 at 7:39 AM, Joel M said:

 

IP!!! Content!!!  Between this and A24's small catalogue being shopped for billions I bet a lot of top suits in the industry are getting fired in a couple of years.

I dont think this particular IP is worth anywhere near 400 Million.

You can't IP the idea of Exocism;in face we have one current horror franchise centered around exorcism that has been very sucessful, thank you.

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On 7/27/2021 at 5:15 AM, Elessar said:

The original is one of the most effective horror movies. I'm definitely curious what they will do with it...

I love the first Ecorcist film, did not like any of the sequels.

But IMHO they really overpaid for this franchise.

 

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1 hour ago, abracadabra1998 said:

Since Peacock is in on this, do we know if all three films will be theatrical exclusives, or will they be same-day streaming releases a la Halloween Kills?

I can't see anybody spending 400 Million jusr for the franchsie rights unless they intend to get every cent they can.

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