The Exorcist

The Exorcist

The Exorcist theatrical release poster
Creator William Peter Blatty
Print publications
Novels The Exorcist (novel)
Films and television
Films The Exorcist
Exorcist II: The Heretic
The Exorcist III
The Exorcist (2000 Director's Cut)
Exorcist: The Beginning
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
Television series The Exorcist (TV series)

The Exorcist is an American media franchise originating with The Exorcist, a 1971 horror novel by William Peter Blatty and most prominently featured in a 1973 film adapted from the novel, and many 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)

Main article: The Exorcist (novel)

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 fortieth anniversary, with slight revisions made by Blatty as well as interior title artwork by Jeremy Caniglia.

Legion (1983)

Main article: Legion (Blatty novel)

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]


FilmRelease date
The Exorcist December 26, 1973
Exorcist II: The Heretic June 17, 1977
The Exorcist III August 17, 1990
The Exorcist (2000 Director's Cut) September 22, 2000
Exorcist: The Beginning August 20, 2004
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist June 2, 2005

The Exorcist (1973)

Main article: The Exorcist (film)

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 relatively faithful to the book, which itself has been commercially successful (hitting the New York Times bestseller list).[6][7]

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

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.

The Exorcist III (1990)

Main article: The Exorcist III

The Exorcist III appeared in 1990, written and directed by Blatty himself from his own 1983 novel Legion. Jumping past the events of Exorcist II, this book and film presented a continuation of Karras' 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.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

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.

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

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.

Box office

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 [8][9]
Exorcist II: The Heretic June 17, 1977 $30,749,142 $30,749,142 #1,810 [10]
The Exorcist III August 17, 1990 $26,098,824 $12,925,427 $39,024,251 #2,025 [11]
The Exorcist (2000 Director's Cut) September 22, 2000 $39,671,011 $72,382,055 $112,053,066 #716 $11,000,000 [12]
Exorcist: The Beginning August 20, 2004 $41,821,986 $36,178,600 $78,000,586 #1,324 $80,000,000 [13]
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist June 2, 2005 $251,495(L) $251,495 #7,028 [14]
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.

The Ninth Configuration (1980)

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.[15] The lead character is the astronaut from Chris' party, Lt. Cutshaw.

Possessed (2000)

Main article: Possessed (2000 film)

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.

Television series

The Exorcist (2016–)

On January 22, 2016, 20th Century Fox Television announced they were developing a television series of The Exorcist.[16] It premiered on September 23, 2016.


The Exorcist (2012)

Main article: The Exorcist (play)

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.[17] The Exorcist first premiered at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles in 2012.

Unmade sequels and remakes

In November 2009, it was announced that Blatty planned to direct a mini-series of The Exorcist.[18][19]

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.[20]


The Exorcist (1973) Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) The Exorcist III (1990) Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) The Exorcist (2016-)
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
Pazuzu Mercedes McCambridge (voice) Colleen Dewhurst (voice) Rupert Degas (voice) Mary Beth Hurt (voice) David Hewlett (voice)

See also


  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". 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. "The Exorcist (1973)". Box Office Mojo.
  9. "Movie The Exorcist - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17.
  10. "Exorcist II (1977)". Box Office Mojo.
  11. "The Exorcist III (1990)". Box Office Mojo.
  12. "The Exorcist (2000)". Box Office Mojo.
  13. "Exorcist: The Beginning (2008)". Box Office Mojo.
  14. "Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)". Box Office Mojo.
  15. Fitch, Alex (February 25, 2011). "Light in the Darkness: William Peter Blatty's Faith Trilogy". Electric Sheep Magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  16. Prudom, Laura. "'The Exorcist' Pilot Ordered at Fox with Modern Twist". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  17. "The Exorcist | John Pielmeier". Retrieved 2016-09-30.
  18. "'The Exorcist' Miniseries Reteams Original Writer/Director?".
  19. "Cemetery Dance #62: The William Peter Blatty special issue shipping now!". Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  20. Barkan, Jonathan (September 28, 2015). "Morgan Creek Confirms They Will NOT Remake 'The Exorcist'". Bloody-Disgusting. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
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