Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan

Well after a few weeks of speculation, it’s official. Deadline reports Mike Flanagan will write and direct the next The Exorcist film for Blumhouse and Universal. The news comes after David Gordon Green stepped down in January of this year from making a follow up to last year’s The Exorcist: Believer. Per Deadline:

Stated Flanagan, “The Exorcist is one of the reasons I became a filmmaker, and it is an honor to have the chance to try something fresh, bold, and terrifying within its universe. Reuniting with my friends at Blumhouse, with whom I’ve made some of my favorite pieces of work, only makes this more exciting.”

“Mike’s voice and vision are indispensable for horror fans and we are excited to welcome him back to Blumhouse. I immediately responded to Mike’s new take on the world of The Exorcist and can’t wait for audiences to experience it,” said Blumhouse Boss Jason Blum. 

“It’s an honor to be working with Mike. I think his vision for this franchise is going to stun audiences worldwide, and I could not be more excited to be working with him, Trevor, Jason and the entire Blumhouse Team,” said David Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Creek.

The news looks like a cautious move for Universal and Blumhouse who paid a hefty $400 million for the rights to make new Exorcist films. With that price tag and Green’s track record resurrecting the dormant Halloween into a blockbuster franchise, executives clearly thought that they could generate similar success with new chapters in the similarly dormant The Exorcist franchise. 

Ellen Burstyn and Leslie Odom Jr.
Ellen Burstyn and Leslie Odom Jr. in The Exorcist: Believer/Copyright Universal Studios

It should be said The Exorcist: Believer did earn $137 million worldwide which made back the film’s $30 million production budget (but probably not its advertising budget). Still that was barely a quarter of what Univeral and Blumhouse spent on rights to make new Exorcist movies. 

Like Green’s Halloween films, there were plans for a three-film franchise. However, the lukewarm box office numbers and less than stellar reviews (including ours) forced an audible. The studio set an early 2025 release date for the planned sequel, titled The Exorcist: Deceiver. Those plans will be scrapped with Flanagan coming aboard.

Flanagan is one of the most beloved horror directors in recent years. Much of his success lies with his various Netflix series such as the anthology House of… series and the miniseries Midnight Mass. His adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep seems to grow in stature every year and his next film, Life of Chuck, is another King adaptation.

Doctor Sleep
Ewan MacGregor in Doctor Sleep/Copyright Warner Brothers

The choice to go with Flanagan is a safe one after the critical and commercial failure of that last Exorcist film. Flanagan has experience tackling religious themes in his work (see Midnight Mass), and he also has experience with respecting older material while adding new spins to them (see Doctor Sleep). We’ll see if he fares better than David Gordon Green whenever the new Exorcist film hits theaters.