Exorcist: The Beginning
- [Total: 5 Average: 1.4]
- Directed By: Renny Harlin
- Written By: Alexi Hawley
- Release Date: August 20, 2004
- Domestic Distributor: Morgan Creek (through Warner Bros)
- Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Izabella Scorupco, James D’Arcy
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $52 million||Financed by: Morgan Creek|
|Domestic Box Office: $41,821,986||Overseas Box Office: $36,178,600|
Morgan Creek head James G. Robinson resurrected the Exorcist property in 1997 and began hiring writers to pen the prequel. John Frankenheimer signed on as director in August 2001 and he cast Liam Neeson as the lead and a July 2003 release was penciled in. Frankenheimer left the picture in June 2002 after his health had deteriorated and he died one month later. Neeson then exited the project.
Paul Schrader was brought on as director and filming began in November 2002 with a $38M budget set. After Paul Schrader screened his first edit, James G. Robinson did not think the movie was commercial enough and he hired another editor to recut the movie and Schrader was pushed aside. Robinson eventually decided to scrap the whole movie and reshoot the film under the direction of Renny Harlin as Exorcist: The Beginning. The discarded and incomplete Schrader movie remained buried for 2 years and was released as Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist.
James G. Robinson has said the troubled fourth entry in the Exorcist series cost between $52 and $54 million and Schrader’s scrapped film cost between $32 and $34 million. Morgan Creek distributed Exorcist: The Beginning in the US through Warner Bros and paid for the hefty P&A costs. It was dated for the slow end of summer frame on August 20, 2004 and bowed against Without a Paddle and the wide expansion of Open Water. Reviews were dreadful.
In an interview with the LA Times Robinson said: “I get out with my money if we open at $40 million. If we hit that, nobody wins, nobody loses.” It opened with less than half of what Robinson hoped for at $18,054,001 — winning the sleepy weekend box office. Audiences gave Exorcist: The Beginning a poor C cinemascore, which is not uncommon for horror films, but it sank 60.8% the following frame to $7,081,057. The domestic run closed with $41,821,986. Morgan Creek would see returned about $23 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, plus a fee to Warner Bros, which would not cover their P&A spend and leave the budget in the red.
Overseas, the film was released in most markets through Warner Bros and pulled in weak numbers for a film with this price tag. Italy was the only market where the film played to decent numbers with $7.5 million. The overseas total was $36,178,600. After the failure of this film, Morgan Creek gave Paul Schrader $35,000 for visual effects and sound mixing to get Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist in some sort of releasable form.