New Exorcist Trilogy Sells to Universal for Reported $400 Million, Ellen Burstyn Returning

News broke last December that David Gordon Green was working with Blumhouse on a new movie in “The Exorcist” franchise. Green and Blumhouse reinvigorated the “Halloween” franchise with their eponymous 2018 horror movie, the first film in a trilogy that continues this year with “Halloween Kills” and next year with “Halloween Ends.” It turns out Green and Blumhouse are taking the exact same approach with their new “Exorcist” movie, not only crafting a trilogy but also bringing original star Ellen Burstyn back to star just as Jamie Lee Curtis did for the new “Halloween” films.

A new report from The New York Times reveals Universal Pictures and its streaming service Peacock “have closed a $400 million-plus megadeal to buy a new ‘Exorcist’ trilogy.” The price tag is at the same level that Netflix paid for Rian Johnson’s two “Knives Out” sequels earlier this year. Morgan Creek Entertainment has held the rights to “The Exorcist” franchise and is working with Green and Blumhouse’s Jason Blum on the new movies. Green is writing and directing. IndieWire has reached out to Universal for confirmation.

The trilogy will serve as a direct sequel to William Friedkin’s original “The Exorcist,” which Green has already confirmed in interviews. Per The Times, Burstyn will return as Chris MacNeil and Leslie Odom Jr. is set to play “the father of a possessed child” who “tracks down” Burstyn’s character for help. The Times adds: “The first film in the trilogy is expected to arrive in theaters in late 2023. Under the terms of the deal, the second and third films could debut on Peacock, according to one of the people briefed on the matter.”

Green confirmed to Total Film magazine earlier this month that he completed the script to the first “Exorcist” movie during the pandemic. Green’s 2018 “Halloween” also served as a direct sequel to the original movie and side-stepped more divisive sequels. But unlike that approach, the new “Exorcist” trilogy will continue the story told in the original Friedkin movie’s sequels.

“I like all the ‘Exorcist’ movies,” Gordon said. “And not only do I like them, I think they can all fall into the acceptable mythology for what I’m doing. It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Pretend that “The Exorcist 2” never happened.’ That’s fine to exist. They’re all fine to exist, and I enjoy all of them.”

Green continued, “It’s another fun legacy to be a part of, and hopefully we’ll get that going in the near future. That one is a lot of research, rather than just impulsive screenwriting. That’s one that you talk to a lot of people. You read a lot of books, and do a shit-load of interviews. There was such a dramatic authenticity to what that original film is. It’s a lot more than I anticipated getting into it. And I guess I was naïve to think that. But it was very exhilarating to be involved in a lot of those conversations that you find yourself in.”

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