The Exorcist is coming back as a three-movie trilogy in theaters and on the Peacock streaming service, according to a new report – with the 1973 movie's original star, Ellen Burstyn, in tow. The trilogy is set to be directed by David Gordon Green, who directed 2018's solid Halloween revival movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
The New York Times reports that the deal is worth more than $400 million, and frames it as a direct response to the giants currently dominating in the streaming space. It's a pricey team-up between both Universal Pictures, the movie studio, and Peacock.
The movie trilogy will reportedly be produced by horror specialist Jason Blum, along with franchise rights holders Morgan Creek.
This the first time Burstyn is reprising her role as Chris MacNeil since William Friedkin's original film. Leslie Odom Jr., best known for his role in Hamilton, will also appear in the movie, which is a belated sequel rather than a reboot – he's playing the father of a son who's unfortunately become possessed, and therefore seeks out MacNeil for assistance with his problem.
The Exorcist has had two sequels and two prequels, none of which got anywhere near the acclaim of the original movie.
The first of these movies will land in theaters in late 2023, based on this report – but the second and third movies may debut on the Peacock streaming service, which is an intriguing wrinkle. It sort of resembles what's happening with the Knives Out series: while the first movie launched in theaters, filmmaker Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman made a $400 million deal to produce two sequels for Netflix that will undoubtedly launch on the streaming service.
Analysis: Peacock needed to take a bigger swing
With Disney releasing its movies via Premier Access at the same time they hit theaters, and with HBO Max rolling out Warner Bros' entire 2021 theatrical slate at the same time it hits the big screen, streamers in the US are deep in an arms race over winning subscribers and generating revenue.
Peacock, meanwhile, hasn't done anything that drastic or headline-grabbing yet when it comes to new movies – though it did release Boss Baby: Back in Business in the US last month, a move that got 783,000 households to tune in across the July 4 weekend, according to Deadline. That release was only available as part of the service's two paid tiers.
Committing to a trilogy of horror films based on a popular series is a clever way to start distinguishing itself in that department, then. The streamer offers plenty of films to watch, including the eight Harry Potter movies – three of which can be enjoyed as part of its ad-supported free streaming tier.
As of late April 2021, the service had a healthy 42 million subscribers. HBO Max and Netflix, which both have a sizeable head-start and international presence (but no free streaming tiers), have netted around 64 million (via CNBC) and 209 million subscribers respectively.
Still, if you want to stream The Office, and originals like Rutherford Falls and Dr Death, Peacock is still well worth a look. Peacock is only available in the US as it stands – but its parent company, Comcast, also owns Sky in Europe.