The Exorcist: Believer Falters at $28M Opening Amid $400M Franchise Gamble

07.10.2023 posted by Admin

The Exorcist: Believer Falls Short Amidst High Expectations

Universal and Blumhouse's latest horror film, "The Exorcist: Believer," has made an opening of $28 million so far. While this falls within the typical range for successful horror movies like "Evil Dead" ($24.5 million), "Smile" ($22.6 million), and "The Black Phone" ($23.6 million), it's quite a distance from the impressive $76.2 million debut of David Gordon Green's "Halloween" in 2018. The opening is especially concerning when considering that the studios invested a hefty $400 million in acquiring the franchise rights, which had become increasingly expensive due to high competition.

We are still trying to make sense of this situation. It appears that the $400 million investment wasn't just for a deal on three movies, each with a budget of $133 million, as horror films typically don't come with such exorbitant price tags. What we can confirm is that the reboot of "The Exorcist" was produced for $30 million before marketing expenses. Its Friday box office earnings stand at $12 million across 3,663 theaters, including $2.85 million from previews held the previous night.

Paramount's "Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie," showing at 4,027 theaters, is seeing its second Friday with earnings of $2.8 million, on track for a three-day total of $11.5 million. This marks a 49% drop, bringing its ten-day total to $38.6 million.

In third place, Lionsgate's "Saw X" is estimated to earn $2.5 million on its second Friday at 3,262 theaters, heading for a second-weekend total of $8.6 million. This reflects a 53% decrease, resulting in a ten-day total of $33 million.

New Regency, 20th Century Studios, and Disney's "The Creator," playing at 3,680 theaters, is projected to earn $1.5 million on its second Friday, with a three-day total of $5.3 million. This represents a steep 62% decline, bringing its cumulative earnings to $24.1 million by the end of Sunday.

In fifth place, New Line's "The Nun 2" has a fifth Friday earning $750,000, a three-day total of $2.6 million, and a 46% drop. Its total earnings to date stand at $81 million.

Overall, it seems that the weekend box office earnings for all movies combined will fall short of $100 million once again.

On Friday morning, David Gordon Green's "The Exorcist: Believer" continued the trend of successful horror films at the box office, with $2.85 million in previews on Thursday night, poised for a potential start between the high $20 million to $30 million range.

The previews began at 5 p.m. in 3,050 theaters, with Universal offering IMAX and PLF showings across 3,663 theaters. "Exorcist: Believer's" previews outperformed Lionsgate's "Saw X" by only $850,000; this $13 million production had a strong first week, estimated at $24.4 million. This surpasses the first week earnings of 2017's "Jigsaw," also known as "Saw 8," which grossed $22.1 million. "Saw X" managed to lead the box office on weekdays despite competition from Paramount and Spin Master's "PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie" last weekend.

While "The Nun 2" appeared to be a demographic match for "Exorcist: Believer," with a focus on 18- to 34-year-olds and older males, it earned $3.1 million in previews before achieving a $32.6 million start.

In contrast, "Saw X" received critical acclaim with an 83% certified fresh rating, while the $400 million franchise acquisition of "Exorcist: The Believer" received a less favorable 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it's worth noting that the overall cost of the "Exorcist: Believer" package for Universal, Peacock, Blumhouse, and Morgan Creek was relatively low, with the feature production itself costing only $30 million before marketing expenses. For reference, "Exorcist II: The Heretic" in 1977 received a dismal 9% rating on the review aggregator site.

Despite the critical reception, "Exorcist: Believer" marks Ellen Burstyn's return to the franchise as the mother of the demon-possessed child, reprising her role from the original 1973 film directed by the late William Friedkin.

Originally, the weekend was set to feature Sony's start to the Marvel franchise with "Kraven the Hunter." However, the studio postponed the movie to the next Labor Day weekend due to an actors' strike. While a decrease in film releases is not ideal for theaters, it appears to be a strategic move on Sony's part, given the need for the cast, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Ariana DeBose, to promote the film effectively. Additionally, "Exorcist: Believer" was originally scheduled to open on October 13th but was moved up a week earlier due to the immense pre-sales success of AMC's "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" concert film.

On Thursday, "Saw X" earned $1.1 million, representing a 16% decrease from Wednesday, while "PAW Patrol 2" saw $900,000 in earnings, a 7% increase. In third place, New Regency, 20th Century Studios, and Disney's Gareth Edwards sci-fi film "The Creator" earned $814,000 on Thursday, marking a 20% decline from Wednesday and bringing its first-week earnings to $18.8 million. Fathom's "The Blind" secured fourth place with an estimated $565,000, reflecting a 27% increase from Wednesday, resulting in a $6.5 million week and a cumulative total of $7.3 million. Fathom also introduced another faith-based title for the weekend, "Mother Teresa & Me," which started with an estimated $348,000 in fifth place for the day.
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