Schrader’s ‘Exorcist’ Sets Premier Date- Changes Name?

Warner Bros. Paul Schrader version of Exorcist: The Beginning, which is now being called Exorcist: The Prequel by the festival, is about to get a test run this February in Berlin. Schrader was replaced by Renny Harlin, who then went on to shoot an entirely different $50 million (review) film with changes in the key cast. Inside you’ll find the full story on the world premier of Schrader’s supposed “disaster”. You can win a copy of Harlin’s version of DVD here
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Screen Daily reports:

Geoffrey Macnab in Berlin 18 February 2005 04:00

Proving that in this era of DVDs, re-issues and special festival screenings, no footage is ever safely in the grave, Paul Schrader will bring his version of The Exorcist: The Beginning to the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film on March 18 in a precursor to what looks like a limited theatrical rollout.

This will be a world premiere for the $35m film, which was binned by producer Morgan Creek almost two years ago after it was deemed not scary enough.

Schrader was replaced by Renny Harlin, who then went on to shoot an entirely different $50m film with changes in the key cast.

Now Schrader is resurrecting the first film, starring Stellan Skarsgard (who appeared in both versions) and Billy Crawford for a world premiere in Belguim.

The Harlin version of The Exorcist: The Beginning was released to lukewarm reviews but a healthy worldwide gross of $76m. The Schrader film, meanwhile, has never been seen before.

While Morgan Creek has been unclear on its plans surrounding the original version – it once thought of premiering it on a DVD release alongside the Harlin take – it has never ruled out theatrically-releasing the Scrader version.

The director himself has expressed a desire to show the films side-by-side and let the audience decide, saying: “In the end it’s a revenue stream. And all revenue streams eventually reach the sea.”

Box office returns of films in the Exorcist franchise:

1973 The Exorcist: US $232.7m (inc. re-releases) Intl $208.4m

1977 Exorcist II: The Heretic: US $30.7m Intl n/a

1990 The Exorcist 3: US $26.1m Intl $12.9 (est)

2004 Exorcist: The Beginning: US $41.8m Intl $35.1m

The move reinforces the role of film festivals in empowering directors and changing public opinion. Vincent Gallo, for example, followed a critical mauling at Cannes in 2003 for his opus The Brown Bunny with a re-edit, a berth at the Toronto Film Festival and FIPRESCI prize at Vienna later that same year.

Exorcist: The Prequel is one of the highlights of the Fantastic Film festival (March 11-26.) More details of this year’s programme were announced in Berlin yesterday.

Source: Screen Daily, Chans, official BIFFF website