Director David Gordon Green and Blumhouse’s second reboot of a major horror franchise, The Exorcist: Believer, is falling short of modest expectations going into its debut weekend. The legacy sequel is looking to deliver an estimated three-day haul of $27 million, which is on par with the openings that recent horror titles such as Evil Dead Rise and Smile delivered, but virtually incomparable to the $76 million that Green and Blumhouse’s first Halloween reboot generated in its opening weekend back in 2018.

And while Halloween is among the most recognized brands in horror cinema, the original Exorcist movie, released exactly 50 years ago, has had genuine crossover appeal. Directed by the late, great William Friedkin, The Exorcist is often cited as among the greatest films ever made, which meant that expectations from The Exorcist: Believer, which has been positioned as a direct sequel, were very high. But the movie is struggling to rebound from the toxic reviews that it was greeted to prior to release day.

The Exorcist: Believer currently sits at a “rotten” 23% score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and could earn only a C CinemaScore from opening day audiences. Collider’s Chase Hutchinson called it a “soulless horror sequel.” None of this bodes well for the film, which is expected to start a new trilogy, much like Green’s Halloween. That series nosedived both critically and commercially following the successful first chapter but was able to generate nifty profits thanks to restricted budgets. The Exorcist: Believer cost a reported $30 million to produce, but more significantly, Universal reportedly shelled out $400 million for the rights to the franchise alone.

Slipping to second place after topping the box office in its debut last weekend, Paramount’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is expected to add $11.7 million this weekend, taking its running domestic total to $38 million. By comparison, 2021’s PAW Patrol: The Movie ended its domestic run with $40 million, but it was also released simultaneously on the Paramount+ streaming service. Third place this weekend went to Saw X, which held unusually well for a horror title, despite very direct competition this weekend. After grossing $18-odd million in its first weekend, the film is looking at an $8 million second weekend, which marks a strong 55% drop and takes the film’s running domestic total to just under $33 million.

The fourth and fifth spots are going to 20th Century Studios’ science-fiction film The Creator and Fathom’s faith-based drama The Blind. After underwhelming in its opening weekend, The Creator seems to be having a difficult time bouncing back; the movie is looking to add just over $6 million this weekend, taking its running total to around $25 million. The Blind, on the other hand, is expected to add $3.1 million, which takes its domestic total past the $10 million mark. In limited release, NEON’s The Royal Hotel is seeing a $330,000 debut from around 260 theaters, and A24’s Dicks: The Musical is expecting a $220,000 debut from just seven locations. Stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

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