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SYFY WIRE The Exorcist

Peacock’s new Exorcist trilogy to ‘reinvent’ franchise by ignoring sequels & leaning on iconic original

By Benjamin Bullard
 Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn The Exorcist

It’s worked for Michael Myers, so why not apply some of that same Blumhouse movie magic straight to the devil himself? Horror mastermind Jason Blum says that the recently-revealed film revival of 1970s horror classic The Exorcist will “reinvent” the franchise, and it’ll do so in more or less the same way that the production house has successfully breathed fresh 21st-Century life into Halloween.

Just as Halloween Kills gets set to write a new chapter in the ever-renewable Haddonfield saga this month, Blum has teased fans with a general overview of what to expect as Universal Pictures and Peacock gets set to revive The Exorcist with original star Ellen Burstyn. In a recent CinePOP interview, Blum said fans who regard director William Friedkin’s 1973 classic as the franchise’s head-spinning high point — and many do — won’t be disappointed with what’s in store.

“What I hope to do with The Exorcist is the same thing we did with Halloween,” Blum explained. "Halloween, the first [John Carpenter] movie, was great — and the second movie was okay…and the rest of them were not very good. And then we came in and kind it. And people liked it. So I hope we can do the same thing with The Exorcist.”

David Gordon Green, the director behind the Blumhouse Halloween comeback, has also been tapped as screenwriter and director for the upcoming Universal/Peacock revival of The Exorcist. Preserving such a key piece of the winning Halloween formula, said Blum, lends confidence to the idea that The Exorcist franchise is in good hands at Blumhouse.

“Everyone thinks we're gonna fall on our face,” he joked. “But I think: We have the same filmmaker, the same writer — David Gordon Green — and [fellow Halloween reboot writer] Danny McBride. And I think we'll reinvent The Exorcist so that it'll feel fresh, new, different. But, you know, related to the first movie…but also really, really scary.”

Friedkin’s original movie unfurled an unholy terror tale of a young girl in the grips of demonic possession, making star Linda Blair (as Regan MacNeil) a household name for horror fans across generations. Burstyn earned an Oscar nomination for her role in the iconic first movie as Blair’s mother, Chris MacNeil — a nearly unheard-of achievement for a horror movie at the time.

With the Halloween dream team on deck and Burstyn back to pick up the story from Friedkin’s original, Blumhouse definitely has the basics covered already. There’s no word yet on when The Exorcist — planned as a movie trilogy for theaters with streaming access exclusive to Peacock — will debut. In the meantime, we’ll try to keep our heads on straight as we watch for fresh updates.

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