Fifty years after the original, newly released The Exorcist: Believer topped the North American box office this weekend with an estimated $27.2 million in ticket sales, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said on Sunday.
Analyst David A. Gross called that "a good opening for a horror sequel," the best of any of the "Exorcist" movies, despite what he said were poor reviews and lukewarm audience scores for Blumhouse and Universal's Halloween-timed film.
Like the original, Believer features possessed victims convulsing, covered in sores and speaking in tongues. It also has a decidedly interfaith exorcism. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ann Dowd star in the film, with an appearance by Ellen Burstyn from the 1973 original.
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Believer was to have opened on Friday the 13th, but the studio moved up its release to avoid conflicting with the release that day of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, a concert film certain to generate big numbers, Variety reported.
Last weekend's box office leader, Paramount's family-friendly Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, slipped slightly to second, at $11.8 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.
The Paw pups, using new superpowers as they fight to protect their city, are voiced by actors Taraji P. Henson, Chris Rock, Serena Williams and McKenna Grace.
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In third, also down one spot, is Lionsgate's horror flick Saw X, at $8.2 million. This latest in the Saw series, again with Tobin Bell as the infamous Jigsaw, has received strongly positive reviews.
The fourth spot, down from third, went to 20th Century sci-fi thriller The Creator, at $6.1 million. John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe and Allison Janney play humans in a world at war with artificial intelligence.
Holding steady in fifth was Fathom Events' faith-based movie The Blind, at $3.1 million. It portrays the real-life struggles of swamp-dwelling reality TV star Phil Robertson with addiction and romance.