New production house Penchant Entertainment just secured the rights to Father Malachi Martin's 1976 non-fiction book Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans. Penchant hopes to simultaneously adapt the bestseller for both television and film projects.Father Martin was originally a Jesuit priest and multi-doctorate holder who rose to prominence in the Catholic Church. He soon became disillusioned with the whole operation, though, in some part because he felt that "Satan had taken hold of the Vatican," according to the Independent's 1999 obituary.
After Martin left the Church, he became one of the world's foremost exorcism experts, particularly after writing Hostage to the Devil, -- a first-hand and frightening account of modern day possession. Of course, Martin's book benefited greatly from the popularity of William Peter Blatty's 1971 The Exorcist novel, and William Friedkin's 1973 film upon which it was based.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Father Martin's "influential exorcism" account is "sometimes cited as an inspiration" for The Exorcist, but Blatty's novel was published some five years earlier, so that math doesn't exactly add up. Regardless, Martin's work remains popular and relevant, considering not just this new development deal, but also Netflix's 2016 documentary, Hostage to the Devil. Though the titles are similar, as you can see in the trailer below, the doc delves more into Martin's life and his final exorcism than the five exorcisms covered in his 1976 novel. However, the trailer does give you a sense of how taxing exorcisms must be, not only on the possessed, but also on the priest.
Penchant Entertainment just launched this year but already has a number of projects in development, including a supernatural thriller written by Eric Heisserer (Arrival) and Zach Crawly (Heroes Reborn). And it sounds like they're planning on going all in with this title, with multiple, simultaneous adaptations.
“Since its publication,Hostage to the Devil has been the canonical book on possession and exorcism and we are thrilled to finally be able to bring it to life,” Penchant principal Erin Eggers told THR. “With such vibrant, character-rich material at our disposal, our goal is to shatter genre expectations and reset the bar for elevated supernatural fare.”
So, what do you think? Does that sound possessing to you?