Believer’ Eyes $30M+ Franchise Best Box Office Opening – Deadline

Universal/Blumhouse/Morgan Creek’s big screen acquisition of The Exorcist —The Exorcist: Believer–will continue horror’s roll at the autumn box office with a $30M-$36M domestic start at 3,600 locations.

Currently, the R-rated movie is trending demo wise like The Nun 2, which saw a $32.6M opening, meaning it’s great with the 18-34 demographic, Hispanic and Latino audiences as well as older guys. Nun 2 skewed a tad more female at 52%, and it’s expected that this David Gordon Green directed installment will be around an even split as well. Universal will have Imax and PLF screens with previews starting Thursday at 5PM. We hear production cost of The Exorcist: Believer is $30M before P&A.

In the midst of an actors’ strike where talent can’t promote, branded horror has posted solid openings with Nun 2, but also this past weekend Saw X with $18.3M, which bounced the franchise back significantly from its all-time low start on previous chapter Spiral ($8.75M) by 109%. Yesterday, Saw X led all movies at the box office with an estimated Monday take of $1.56M, putting the tenthquel’s running total at $19.8M.

The big question is how Exorcist: Believer holds up once Taylor Swift: Eras Tour hits cinemas on Oct. 13. You’ll remember, Universal moved up Exorcist: The Believer a week to stay out of the Swift storm.

There’s a notion that while branded movies have better chances at the box office than original IP during an actors’ strike, i.e. Creator‘s lighter start of $14M, and Dumb Money‘s lackluster wide break of $3.3M, overall the SAG-AFTRA walkout is definitely watering down all grosses with thespians unable to promote.

Even if Exorcist: Believer opens in the high $20Ms, Uni/Blumhouse/Morgan Creek can still call it a record opening for the franchise. National opening weekends weren’t recorded by the industry back in 1973 when the first Exorcist opened, that pic ultimately grossing $233M stateside and landing two Oscars for Best Sound and William Peter Blatty’s adapted screenplay. 1990’s Exorcist III opened to $9.3M, by far the biggest debut for an Exorcist movie to date, and legged out to $26M; while the 2000 re-release of the original pic was a cash cow at the fall box office bowing to $8.1M and grossing $39.4M.

Universal got a hold of the franchise global rights to the Exorcist for $400M in partnership with Blumhouse, Morgan Creek and streaming service Peacock. The latest reboot/sequel will hit PVOD around 17 days and Peacock at 45 days. Ellen Burstyn reprises her role as Chris MacNeil, the mother of the demon-possessed child in the first movie, a role which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nominee. Burstyn did not participate in any of the previous – and largely panned – Exorcist sequels or prequels, which included Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Exorcist III (1990), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005).

Green, who together with story by guy Danny McBride, were behind reviving Universal’s recent Halloween trilogy with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode, that trio of movies grossing $497.6M WW.

Blurb for the latest Exorcist movie: Since the death of his pregnant wife in a Haitian earthquake 13 years ago, Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) has raised their daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett, Good Girls) on his own. But when Angela and her friend Katherine (Olivia O’Neill), disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, it unleashes a chain of events that will force Victor to confront the nadir of evil and, in his terror and desperation, seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil.

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