With the release of The Forever Purge—the fifth in the eerily prescient dystopian horror series—upon us, Den of Geek had a chance to speak with Jason Blum, the producer and Blumhouse Productions president. In addition to discussing the future of the Purge franchise (more on that later this week), we also had the chance to query the producer about the many other genre projects always percolating under his banner.
One of those is a The Exorcist sequel, which Blum is developing with director David Gordon Green. The pair’s last attempt to reenergize and sequelize a storied horror title, 2018’s Halloween, was both a box office and well-deserved critical success. It ignored decades of inferior sequels, retcons, and reboots and focused on picking up the story—40 years later—at the heart of the property: Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) battle against Michael Myers.
Blum and Green face a similar situation with The Exorcist. Despite one sequel being considered a minor classic in its own right (The Exorcist III) and a short-lived but well-received TV series that found a way to tie itself to the original movie, William Friedkin’s 1973 horror milestone—the first horror film ever nominated for Best Picture, not to mention a cultural phenomeno—has been dogged by a handful of terrible follow-ups and add-ons. There was 1977’s unwatchable The Exorcist II, plus two underwhelming versions of the same prequel: 2004’s Exorcist: The Beginning and 2005’s Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist.
Although he doesn’t say directly that Green’s film will disregard the four other films and the TV series that came in the original The Exorcist’s wake, Blum hints that it will be far removed from those entries.
“[It’s] going to be like David’s Halloween sequel,” Blum says. “I think it’s going to pleasantly surprise all the skeptics out there. We had a lot of skeptics about Halloween and David turned them around, and I think he’s going to turn it around with The Exorcist.”
Blum also maintains that he doesn’t find the prospect of creating a new sequel to what is widely considered the greatest horror movie of all time to be daunting.
“I love to do [these] kinds of movies because people are very emotional about it,” he says. “I think it’s a high bar and it’s a challenge to do the movie. Remember, most of the audience coming to this—95 percent of the audience who will, if we do our job right, come to see this movie—will not have seen the first Exorcist or even heard of it.”
Blum doesn’t say where he got that statistic from—although we suspect he has market research folks who do exactly that kind of heavy-lifting—but he does insist that number is “shocking, but true.”
He continues, “I want to make a movie that works for both [audiences]. I want to make a movie for people that know and love the first Exorcist and are furious that we’re doing this, but somehow drag themselves to the theater. I want them to come out happy. And I want to make a movie that people who’ve never heard of The Exorcist really enjoy. I think David did that with Halloween. I think he’ll do that with The Exorcist also.”
For now, all other information on the sequel, including plot and casting details, remains up in the air while Green completes the trilogy he began with Halloween (the next one, Halloween Kills, is due out Oct. 15, while the finale, Halloween Ends, arrives exactly a year later).
Unlike Green’s Halloween reboot, for which original director and mastermind John Carpenter served as an executive producer and composer, The Exorcist director William Friedkin has adamantly said he will not be involved, even if asked, in any new films spun off from his original.
The Forever Purge is out in theaters this Friday, July 2.