Universal And Peacock Spending $400 Million To Buy New Exorcist Trilogy

The Exorcist

We recently learned that David Gordon Green and Blumhouse are pairing up for a legacy sequel to The Exorcist, which has now been reported to be launching a trilogy. Leslie Odom Jr. is starring, with Ellen Burstyn reprising her role from the 1973 William Friedkin movie. The rest of Hollywood certainly sees a lot of potential in the package, with Universal and Peacock ready to spend more than $400 million to secure the rights to the films.

The deal, which would likely combine a theatrical release window with streaming, was explained in a story from The New York Times:

“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.”

In terms of plot, Odom Jr. is playing the father of a child believed to be possessed, bringing him into contact with Burstyn’s character. When exactly The Exorcist will be set in relation to the first story is unknown, but Gordon Green’s comments on the screenplay suggest that it’ll be very much in the style of his take on Halloween, where the events of the existing Exorcist follow-ups will be replaced with a new continuity.

The prospect of a trilogy seems to confirm a tip from Daniel Richtman back in December 2020, meaning that this might always have been the long-term plan of Blumhouse and franchise owners Morgan Creek. Indeed, Gordon Green’s interview this month implies that his script for the initial entry is already complete, while the finished product could be in theaters in late 2023. Furthermore, the Universal-Peacock purchase may result in the second and third instalments premiering on the streamer.

Given the name recognition of The Exorcist, and the pressure on NBCUniversal to catch up to Netflix, Amazon, and Disney Plus, splashing out on the property is a bold but probably well-judged move. Trust in Gordon Green will presumably also be confirmed if Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends are hits, making a solid extension of the one of the biggest box office successes in history a surefire money-spinner. At the very least, there’s hope that Blumhouse can avoid the mistakes of the inconsistent, if sometimes fascinating sequels.