May 24, 2024

In the horror genre, nothing really ever stays dead.

Universal and Blumhouse’s sequel, “The Exorcist: Believer,” is launching at the box office this weekend, and it’s made $2.85 million in Thursday previews so far.

The R-rated movie is expected to make between $30 million and $36 million in its opening, which will mark the best launch of the horror franchise ever. Out of the previous five movies, the original 1973 “Exorcist” still stands tall with a huge $441 million lifetime box office gross.

The new movie doubles the exorcisms of the original and follows the 3-day disappearance of two young girls, who return under a demonic influence. To battle the evil spirts lurking within them, they recruit the one person with prior exorcism experience: Chris MacNeil, played by original “Exorcist” star Ellen Burstyn. The new cast includes Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Dowd, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz and newcomers Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum as the pair of possessed preteens.

“The Exorcist: Believer” is meant to kick off a new trilogy of films helmed by David Gordon Green, who just revived the “Halloween” franchise with a three-movie return by Jamie Lee Curtis. A sequel, titled “The Exorcist: Deceiver,” already has a release date set for April 18, 2025. The “Exorcist” rights alone cost Universal $400 million to acquire.

At the end of August, “The Exorcist: Believer” narrowly avoided a bloodbath of its own by moving its release date up one week to avoid the box office onslaught of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.” The concert movie was surprise announced for Oct. 13, the previous release date for “The Exorcist: Believer,” and is expected to blow away the competition in its debut.

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