Why The Exorcist: Believer Failed

David Gordon-Green's Exorcist reboot has bombed critically and commercially, and it's no shock why.

Exorcist: The Believer Flopped
Universal Pictures

The latest Exorcist film, The Exorcist: Believer, hasn't done too well at the box office or with critics, but that shouldn't come as a huge surprise. The film, which takes a similar sort of requel approach to the franchise in the same way 2018's Halloween did, brings back original Exorcist cast member Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil to tell a new story of two children who seemingly become possessed after going missing for several weeks.

Intended to be part one of a trilogy, Believer landed a paltry 22% on Rotten Tomatoes and has so far grossed only $109 million at the global box office (as per Box Office Mojo). The latter sum may seem respectable given its reported $30 million budget, but it's a middling return that will ensure it just about limps into the breaking even category - a just reward for a film that probably shouldn't exist in the first place.

When it was announced in 2020 that Blumhouse would be resurrecting the Exorcist franchise with Halloween trilogy director David Gordon Green at the helm, alarm bells went off pretty quickly. Not because Gordon Green's Halloween movies were bad, necessarily (the 2018 entry was largely well-received, only to be followed by two polarising sequels), but rather that making an Exorcist film without its creator, the late William Peter Blatty - who passed away in 2017 at the age of 89 - should've been a non-starter.

Blatty authored The Exorcist in 1971 and adapted it for the screen to be directed by the late William Friedkin two years later, telling a uniquely personal story that reckoned with his own Catholic faith and arrived at an equally personal conclusion: that, if the devil exists, then God must too. The story was inspired by a reported account of demonic possession that took place in 1949, an account Blatty felt was an affirmation of divinity rather than something that should dispirit the idea of faith itself.

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Content Producer/Presenter
Content Producer/Presenter

Resident movie guy at WhatCulture who used to be Comics Editor. Thinks John Carpenter is the best. Likes Hellboy a lot. Can usually be found talking about Dad Movies on his Twitter at @EwanRuinsThings.