Vatican exorcist’s demon-expelling life may be the basis for a new film franchise

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May 4, 2018

Something just possessed Sony to buy up the rights to a stack of real-life horror tales that may assure movie theaters remain knee-deep in exorcisms for a long, long time to come.

Sony Screen Gems has just snapped up “the exclusive life rights” of the late Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican priest whose decades-spanning career of casting out devils earned him frequent headlines as the Holy See’s unofficial demon cleaner, according to Deadline.

The deal places in Sony’s hands a wealth of anecdotes from Father Amorth’s ongoing battle against all those manifestations of evil, setting up the potential for a new film franchise that, if successful, could roll out new scary movies for years. The deal reportedly includes the rights to Amorth’s two memoirs, An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories.

Amorth died in 2016, but his demon-slaying exploits have been having a moment of late. A documentary about Amorth from William Friedkin — who, as the director of the original Exorcist, represents possibly one of the planet’s most apt choices to helm such a project — has been drumming up buzz, following its debut last fall at the Venice Film Festival.

That film, The Devil and Father Amorth, takes a close look at Amorth’s work in driving out the evil that (formerly) inhabited the body of an Italian woman. The project came about after a chance meeting between Friedkin and the priest, resulting in Friedkin gaining permission to follow Amorth with a camera and document Amorth's recollections in the process.

As Deadline points out, Sony may be hoping to get some added value from snapping up the rights for a horror anthology, of sorts, that has its roots in the real world. Similar strategies have paid off for recent franchises like The Conjuring, which follow the exploits of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and itself took a page straight out of The Amityville Horror’s 1970s-vintage, real-life horror playbook.

Sony hasn’t announced specifics on how it plans to summon Father Amorth’s rich catalog of exorcisms — said to be thousands of encounters deep — into service. Stay tuned for updates... and keep those demon-repelling talismans close.