The Exorcist

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The Exorcist
Exorcist ver2.jpg
The Exorcist theatrical release poster
Created byWilliam Peter Blatty
Original workThe Exorcist
OwnerUniversal Pictures
Print publications
Novel(s)The Exorcist
Films and television
Film(s)The Exorcist
Exorcist II: The Heretic
The Exorcist III
The Exorcist (2000 Director's Cut)
Exorcist: The Beginning
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
Television seriesThe Exorcist

The Exorcist is an American media franchise that originated with William Peter Blatty's 1971 horror novel of the same name and most prominently featured in a 1973 film adapted from the novel, and many subsequent prequels and sequels. All of these installments focus on fictional accounts of people possessed by Pazuzu, the main antagonist of the series, and the efforts of religious authorities to counter this possession.


The Exorcist (1971)[edit]

The Exorcist is a 1971 novel by American writer William Peter Blatty. The book details the demonic possession of twelve-year-old Regan MacNeil, the daughter of a famous actress, and the two priests who attempt to exorcise the demon. It was published by Harper & Row.

The novel was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession and exorcism that Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University.[1] As a result, the novel takes place in Washington D.C. near the campus of Georgetown University. In September 2011, the novel was reprinted by Harper Collins to celebrate its 40th anniversary, with slight revisions made by Blatty as well as interior title artwork by Jeremy Caniglia.

Legion (1983)[edit]

Legion is the 1983 follow-up to the Exorcist novel. It was made into the movie The Exorcist III in 1990. Like The Exorcist, it involves demonic possession. The book was the focus of a court case over its exclusion from The New York Times Best Seller list.

Blatty based aspects of the Gemini Killer on the real-life Zodiac Killer,[2] who, in a January 1974 letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, had praised the original Exorcist film as "the best satirical comedy that I have ever seen".[3]


Film Release date
The Exorcist December 26, 1973
Exorcist II: The Heretic June 17, 1977
The Exorcist III August 17, 1990
The Exorcist (director's cut) September 22, 2000
Exorcist: The Beginning August 20, 2004
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist May 20, 2005

William Peter Blatty's Faith Trilogy[edit]

The Exorcist (1973)[edit]

The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name, and starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller. The film is part of The Exorcist franchise. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe,[4][5] deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother's attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The adaptation is faithful to the book, which itself has been commercially successful (appearing on the New York Times bestseller list).[6][7]

The Ninth Configuration (1980)[edit]

Blatty directed The Ninth Configuration, a post-Vietnam War drama set in a mental institution. Released in 1980, it was based on Blatty's novel of the same name. Though it contrasts sharply with the tone of The Exorcist, Blatty regards Configuration as its true sequel.[8] The lead character is the astronaut from Chris's party, Lt. Cutshaw (named in the book, nameless in the movie).

The Exorcist III (1990)[edit]

The Exorcist III appeared in 1990, written and directed by Blatty himself from his own 1983 novel Legion. Completely ignoring the events of Exorcist II, this book and film presented a continuation of Karras's story. Following the precedent set in The Ninth Configuration, Blatty turned a supporting character from the first film – in this case, Kinderman — into the chief protagonist. Though the characters of Karras and Kinderman were acquainted during the murder investigation in The Exorcist and Kinderman expressed fondness for Karras, in Exorcist III Blatty has Kinderman remembering Karras as his "best friend". Jason Miller reprised his Academy Award-nominated role in The Exorcist for this film.

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)[edit]

John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic was released in 1977, and revisited Regan four years after her initial ordeal. The plot dealt with an investigation into the legitimacy of Merrin's exorcism of Regan in the first film. In flashback sequences, we see Regan giving Merrin his fatal heart attack, as well as scenes from the exorcism of a young boy named Kokumo in Africa many years earlier.

Possessed (2000)[edit]

A made-for-television film, Possessed (based on the book of the same name by Thomas B. Allen), was broadcast on Showtime on October 22, 2000, directed by Steven E. de Souza and written by de Souza and Michael Lazarou. The film claimed to follow the true accounts that inspired Blatty to write The Exorcist and starred Timothy Dalton, Henry Czerny, and Christopher Plummer.

Prequel series[edit]

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)[edit]

Because of the studio's dissatisfaction with Schrader's version of the prequel (see Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist), Renny Harlin was then hired as director to retool the movie. Harlin reused some of Schrader's footage but shot mostly new material to create a more conventional horror film. Harlin's new version Exorcist: The Beginning was released, but was not well received.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)[edit]

A prequel film attracted attention and controversy even before its release in 2004; it went through a number of directorial and script changes, such that two versions were ultimately released. John Frankenheimer was originally hired as director for the project, but withdrew before filming started due to health concerns. He died a month later. Paul Schrader replaced him. Upon completion the studio rejected Schrader's version as being too slow, and hired another director to retool the movie. Nine months after the release of the retooled movie (see Exorcist: The Beginning) Schrader's original version, retitled Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, was given a small theatrical release.

David Gordon Green's Exorcist trilogy[edit]

In August 2020, it was revealed that Morgan Creek Entertainment is developing a theatrical reboot of The Exorcist, scheduled to be released in 2021.[9] In December 2020, Blumhouse Productions and Morgan Creek announced that the reboot was changed to a "direct" sequel which will be directed by Halloween's David Gordon Green. Jason Blum and the Robinson brothers will produce.[10][11][12] Though the film serves as a direct follow-up to the original, Green confirmed that each of franchise installments are still canon to his new movie.[13]

In July 2021, it was revealed that a trilogy of sequels are in development with David Gordon Green attached as director on each film. Blum will serve as producer, alongside James Robinson and David Robinson. Ellen Burstyn will reprise her role from the original film, with Leslie Odom Jr. co-starring. The projects will be joint-venture productions between Blumhouse Productions and Morgan Creek Entertainment with Universal Pictures serving as distributing company. Universal collaborated with Peacock to purchase distribution rights for $400 million total. Parts two and three of the trilogy, are being optioned as Peacock exclusive films.[14] On July 26, 2021, Linda Blair took to Twitter saying she has not been contacted as of yet to reprise her role of Regan MacNeil saying "As of now, there has not been any discussions about me participating or reprising my role. I wishe all those involved the best and I appreciate the loyalty and passion the fans have for The Exorcist and my character.” [15]

Box office[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States Foreign Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
The Exorcist December 26, 1973 $193,000,000 $208,400,000 $401,400,000 #65 #97 $12,000,000 [16][17]
Exorcist II: The Heretic June 17, 1977 $30,749,142 $30,749,142 #1,810 [18]
The Exorcist III August 17, 1990 $26,098,824 $12,925,427 $39,024,251 #2,025 [19]
The Exorcist (2000 Director's Cut) September 22, 2000 $39,671,011 $72,382,055 $112,053,066 #716 $11,000,000 [20]
Exorcist: The Beginning August 20, 2004 $41,821,986 $36,178,600 $78,000,586 #1,324 $80,000,000 [21]
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist May 20, 2005 $251,495(L) $251,495 #7,028 [22]
Total $331,592,458 $329,886,082(A) $661,478,540(A) $103,000,000(A)
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.
  • (L) indicates the film had a limited release.
  • (A) indicates an estimated figure based on available numbers.

Television series[edit]

On January 22, 2016, 20th Century Fox Television announced they were developing a television series of The Exorcist.[23] On February 2, 2016, Rupert Wyatt was hired to direct the pilot episode.[24] On March 2, 2016, Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels were cast as Father Tomas Ortega and Father Marcus Keane.[25] Geena Davis was cast as Angela Rance in the pilot.[26]

The pilot was filmed in Chicago in early 2016, and on May 10 the series was greenlit for a first season.[27]


The Exorcist (2012)[edit]

In February 2008, American playwright John Pielmeier expressed an interest in adapting William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name into a play and soon met with Blatty. He then began working on a script for the play, in which the first draft was completed in ten days.[28] The Exorcist first premiered at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles in 2012.

Video game[edit]

The Exorcist: Legion VR (2017)[edit]

A horror VR video game, called The Exorcist: Legion VR, was published on Steam, Oculus and PlayStation in 2018 and was based on the events of The Exorcist III.[29][30][31][32]

Unmade sequels and remakes[edit]

In November 2009, Blatty planned to direct a miniseries of The Exorcist.[33][34]

In September 2015, Morgan Creek Productions announced it was selling its library of films, while retaining remake and sequel rights to key properties, including The Exorcist. Rumors began circulating that the original film would be remade, which was denied by Morgan Creek.[35]

Parodies and pastiches[edit]

The success of The Exorcist inspired a string of possession-related films worldwide. The first was Beyond the Door, a 1974 Italian film with Juliet Mills as a woman possessed by the devil. It appeared in the U.S. one year later. Also in 1974, a Turkish film, Şeytan (Turkish for Satan; the original film was also shown with the same name), is an almost scene-for-scene remake of the original. The same year in Germany, the exorcism-themed film Magdalena, vom Teufel besessen was released. In 1975, Britain released The Devil Within Her (also called I Don't Want to Be Born) with Joan Collins as an exotic dancer who gives birth to a demon-possessed child.

In 1987, Warner Bros. released an animated short starring Daffy Duck, entitled "Duxorcist" which was a parody of The Exorcist, where a group of spirits possess a female duck, and Daffy does succeed in getting them out of the female figure. Similarly, a blaxploitation film was released in 1974 titled Abby. While the films Şeytan and Magdalena, vom Teufel besessen were protected from prosecution by the laws of their countries of origin, Abby's producers (filming in Louisiana) were sued by Warner. The film was pulled from theaters, but not before making $4 million at the box office.

A parody, Repossessed, was released the same year as The Exorcist III, with Blair lampooning the role she had played in the original. Another parody, was made in Italy by actor and comedian Ciccio Ingrassia in 1977, called L'esorciccio. The prologue for Scary Movie 2 was a short parody of several scenes from the original.

Mexican comics Los Polivoces (The Multivoices), made a copy-parody, called El Exorcista. Eduardo Manzano incarned the "possession" and hard make-up was used. Flying clothes were used as "phantoms" and rotoscophy techniques make his bed fly.

Other references[edit]

A 1995 episode of The Simpsons (titled "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily") features Bart, Lisa and Maggie getting put under the care of the Flanders family. After Lisa reveals that neither she, Bart nor Maggie is baptized, Ned decides to baptize them. On the way to the baptism, Maggie turns her head around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. It was also parodied in "Treehouse of Horror", "Treehouse of Horror XVI" and "Treehouse of Horror XXVIII". It was also parodied in "Fland Canyon".

In the Gravity Falls episode "The Inconveniencing", Mabel twisting her head 180 degrees while being possessed by a ghost is a reference to a scene in the movie The Exorcist, in which Pazuzu, possessing Regan MacNeil, turns its head 180 degrees.

In Bride of Chucky, When Chucky is on the bed his head turns all the way around just before killing Damien and Tiffany watches in excitement.

A meta-reference to the film was made in an episode of Supernatural titled "The Usual Suspects". On the show, demons possessing humans is a common plot element; demons in the series are human souls corrupted by their time in Hell, lacking physical bodies of their own to interact with Earth. Linda Blair appeared in "The Usual Suspects" as a police detective, with protagonist Dean Winchester finding her character familiar and expressing a strange desire for pea soup at the episode's conclusion.

In Angel: Earthly Possessions, a spin-off comic story based on the TV series Angel, protagonist Angel finds himself dealing with a priest who performs exorcisms, but comes to realize that the priest is summoning the demons for him to exorcise in the first place. He also makes a note of The Exorcist film, noting that the vision it created of possession actually made things easier for possession demons by making it harder for humans to know what to expect from a possession.

In the animated Horror-comedy show Courage the Cowardly Dog, the episode "The Demon In The Mattress" is a direct spoof of the film, using several plot elements that was lifted straight from The Exorcist. In the episode, Muriel orders a comfy new mattress, not paying attention to the grotesque deliveryman nor the sinister horse-drawn carriage that delivered it. Unaware of the demon in the mattress, she is later possessed by it when while she sleeps.

In the paranormal TV series Ghost Adventures, the producers visited the Exorcist House for their 100th episode of the series. In the episode, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin visit the house to see that an exorcism occurred there in 1949. The episode has been announced as one of the scariest lockdowns since Bobby Mackeys.

The film was parodied in The Boondocks episode "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back" (season 2, episode 4).

The 2013 disaster comedy film This Is the End referred to the exorcism when Jonah Hill is possessed by a demon and Jay Baruchel performs an exorcism on by repeating lines from the movie.

In 2014, British author Saurav Dutt released a book entitled Pazuzu Unbound, which is a book set in contemporary times dealing with the demon Pazuzu but which does not deal with the original characters in the film and novel on which the book is inspired.


Character Film Television series
The Exorcist (1973) Exorcist II:
The Heretic
The Exorcist III (1990) Exorcist:
The Beginning
Prequel to the Exorcist
The Exorcist (2016–2017)
Regan MacNeil / Angela Rance Linda Blair Geena Davis
Chris MacNeil Ellen Burstyn Sharon Gless
Father Lankester Merrin Max von Sydow Stellan Skarsgård
Father Damien Karras Jason Miller Jason Miller
Father Joseph Dyer William O'Malley Ed Flanders
Sharon Spencer Kitty Winn
Lt. William F. Kinderman Lee J. Cobb George C. Scott
Pazuzu / The Salesman Eileen Dietz
Mercedes McCambridge (voice)
Ron Faber (voice)
Karen Knapp (voice) Colleen Dewhurst (voice) Rupert Degas (voice) Mary Beth Hurt (voice) Robert Emmet Lunney
David Hewlett (voice)
Father Philip Lamont Richard Burton
Dr. Gene Tuskin Louise Fletcher
Kokumo James Earl Jones
Joey Green (young)
Gary Tuskin Shane Butterworth
Linda Tuskin Joely Adams
Dr. Temple Scott Wilson
James "The Gemini Killer" Venamun Brad Dourif
Father Francis James D'Arcy Gabriel Mann
Sarah Novak Izabella Scorupco
Major Granville Julian Wadham
Chuma Andrew French
Sgt. Major-Harris Ralph Brown
Lt. Kessel Antonie Kamerling
Semelier Ben Cross
Jefferies Alan Ford
Bession Patrick O'Kane
Rachel Lesno Clara Bellar
Cheche Billy Crawford
Father Tomas Ortega Alfonso Herrera
Father Marcus Keane Ben Daniels
Father Bennett Kurt Egyiawan
Casey Rance Hannah Kasulka
Katherine Rance Brianne Howey
Henry Rance Alan Ruck
Andrew Kim John Cho
Verity Brianna Hildebrand

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dimension Desconocida. Ediciones Robinbook. 2009. ISBN 9788499170015. Retrieved 2010-04-04. La inspiración del exorcista La Historia de Robbie Mannheim es un caso típico de posesión, y es la que dio vida a la película El Exorcista.
  2. ^ "The Exorcist III Info, Trailers, and Reviews at MovieTome". Archived from the original on 28 September 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Zodiac Killer : The Letters - 01-29-1974". SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle). 2 December 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  4. ^ Fry 2008, p. 130.
  5. ^ Pons 2009, p. 132.
  6. ^ Holtzclaw, Mike (October 24, 2014). "The sound and fury of 'The Exorcist'". Daily Press. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Susman, Gary (December 26, 2013). "'The Exorcist': 25 Things You Didn't Know About the Terrifying Horror Classic". Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Fitch, Alex (February 25, 2011). "Light in the Darkness: William Peter Blatty's Faith Trilogy". Electric Sheep Magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  9. ^ Squires, John (August 18, 2020). "'The Exorcist': Morgan Creek Reportedly Developing a New Reboot Movie for Theaters". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  10. ^ Couch, Aaron (December 20, 2020). "'Exorcist' Sequel in the Works with 'Halloween' Director David Gordon Green". Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  11. ^ Katz, Brandon (December 20, 2020). "Exclusive: David Gordon Green in Talks to Direct 'Exorcist' Sequel for Blumhouse". Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  12. ^ Pulliam-Moore, Charles (December 24, 2020). "Blumhouse Is Summoning Another Exorcist Movie to the Mortal Plane". Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  13. ^ Ryan, Danielle (July 23, 2021). "David Gordon Green's 'Exorcist' Movie Confirmed to Be a Direct Sequel to the Original". Slash Film. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  14. ^ Sneider, Jeff (July 26, 2021). "'The Exorcist': David Gordon Green to Direct New Blumhouse Trilogy Starring Leslie Odom Jr". Collider. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  15. ^ Millican, Josh (July 27, 2021). "Linda Blair Has NOT Been Contacted About Returning for the New EXORCIST Trilogy "As of Now"". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Exorcist (1973)". Box Office Mojo.
  17. ^ "Movie The Exorcist - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17.
  18. ^ "Exorcist II (1977)". Box Office Mojo.
  19. ^ "The Exorcist III (1990)". Box Office Mojo.
  20. ^ "The Exorcist (2000)". Box Office Mojo.
  21. ^ "Exorcist: The Beginning (2008)". Box Office Mojo.
  22. ^ "Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)". Box Office Mojo.
  23. ^ Prudom, Laura. "'The Exorcist' Pilot Ordered at Fox with Modern Twist". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  24. ^ Briers, Michael. "Rupert Wyatt To Resurrect A Horror Icon By Helming TV Pilot Of The Exorcist". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 2, 2016). "'Exorcist': Alfonso Herrera & Ben Daniels To Star In Fox Drama Pilot". Deadline.
  26. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth. "Geena Davis Cast in Fox's 'Exorcist' Reboot Pilot". Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  27. ^ Elber, Lynn. "Fox orders series based on 'Lethal Weapon,' 'Exorcist'". Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  28. ^ "The Exorcist | John Pielmeier". Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "'The Exorcist' Miniseries Reteams Original Writer/Director?".
  34. ^ "Cemetery Dance #62: The William Peter Blatty special issue shipping now!". Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  35. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (September 28, 2015). "Morgan Creek Confirms They Will NOT Remake 'The Exorcist'". Bloody-Disgusting. Retrieved May 6, 2016.

External links[edit]