Universal & Peacock Purchase Rights to New ‘Exorcist’ Film

On the heels of David Gordon Green’s announcement that the upcoming Exorcist film he has been developing for Blumhouse and Morgan Creek Productions would, in fact, be a direct sequel to 1973’s ‘The Exorcist’ and not a reboot, now his film is making headlines again with the announcement that Universal Pictures and NBCUninversal’s streaming service, Peacock, has purchased the rights for a reported $400 million.

The deal also comes with the announcement that this initial film will be the first in a brand-new Exorcist Trilogy, which is being described as a “continuation” of the original story told in ‘The Exorcist.’

With this hefty payout, Universal is no doubt hoping that lightning strikes twice, as the original ‘Exorcist’ film has managed to gross $441.3 million since its release in 1973. Coupled with the franchise’s fan base, people’s general desire to finally see an ‘Exorcist’ film worthy of the original, and the success of horror films like ‘IT’ and ‘The Conjuring’ in recent years, Universal is banking on this trilogy being a success.

To further cement the fact that the film will serve as a “continuation” to the original film, there was the final announcement that Ellen Burstyn will be reprising her role of Chris MacNeil, the mother to the possessed Regan MacNeil, in Green’s upcoming film.

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This will mark the first appearance of Burstyn in the ‘Exorcist’ franchise since the original installment. She notably turned down repeated offers to reprise her character in the original sequel, ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic.’ 

Burstyn will be joined by Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) who, according to a report released in The New York Times, will be playing the role of a father who, like Burstyn’s character in the original film, is confronted with the fact that his child is possessed. Grief-stricken, he manages to track down Chris MacNeil in an attempt to get help with his situation.

Notably missing from the announcement was Linda Blair, who played the role of Regan MacNeil in the original ‘Exorcist’ film and who, unlike Burstyn, chose to reprise her role in ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic.’

Blair would later claim that the script she had originally been presented with was not what was used in the final film. She stated that the script received numerous rewrites but, unfortunately, she was unable to drop out of the film at that point.

Blair would not return in any additional official films in the ‘Exorcist’ franchise following the release of this film. She did, however, star in the 1990 ‘Exorcist’ inspired parody ‘Repossessed’ which once again saw her play a character who becomes possessed by a demonic entity.

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News of the deal and the return of Burstyn traveled fast, though, as Blair took to her Twitter account to announce that, as of now, she has not been in any discussions to reprise her role.

Below is Blair’s official Tweet.

Although official filming details have still not been announced, it’s being reported that the film is eyeing an October, 2023 release date. The first film will be released theatrically as well as on Peacock.

The second and third installments are rumored to be available exclusively on Peacock.     

You can be certain that as news on this project continues to unfold, Horrorfacts will be sure to report it.