How The Exorcist Prequel Became One Of Warner Bros.’ Messiest Film Releases

Two people who knew that “Exorcist: The Beginning” was a turkey were Paul Schrader and William Peter Blatty, writer of the original “The Exorcist” novel and screenplay. The two saw the film together and, according to The Independent, Schrader said to Blatty, “This is really bad. If it stays this bad, I bet there’s a chance I can get mine resurrected.” As it turns out, Morgan Creek reached back out to Schrader with the opportunity to finish and release his version of the movie. After all, they needed to make some cash off this in some way.

But it couldn’t be just as simple as that. They allotted him just $35,000 to work on the film, which meant he had to beg for use of post-production facilities, was unable to bring in his cinematographer to properly color time the picture or record any additional ADR, and had to convince Angelo Badalamenti and the band Dog Fashion Disco to do the score for free. But he got it done, and Warner Bros. gave “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist” a limited theatrical run on May 20, 2005. It made just $250,000, never showing beyond 110 screens. While it fared slightly better critically than “Exorcist: The Beginning,” this was still a roundly rejected picture.

Producer James G. Robinson said to the New York Times about this whole disastrous scenario:

“Sometimes you don’t know what you want … So you have to learn what you don’t want.”

As it turns out, what they never realized was that the public did not want a prequel to “The Exorcist,” whether it was the high-minded Paul Schrader version or the “schlock and awe” Renny Harlin one. Well, in 2023, they’re going back to the well. Let’s hope it goes more smoothly this time.

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