Scribe Wisher lands prequel to ‘Exorcist’

NEW YORK — William Wisher, who teamed with James Cameron to write “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” has been assigned the task of saving “The Exorcist” franchise from termination.

Wisher has been hired by Morgan Creek Prods. to write “Exorcist: The Beginning,” a prequel to the series of demonic possession films that began with the William Friedkin-directed Warner Bros. hit “The Exorcist.”

With $165 million in domestic B.O., the pic ranks among the top-grossing horror films of all time.

While it might have seemed that all the life had been exorcised from the 1973 original and two sequels, Wisher, who just finished adapting the Michael Crichton bestseller “Airframe” for director John McTiernan, became possessed with an unexplored part of the original movie — Father Merrin’s first battle with the devil. Played in the film by Max von Sydow, Merrin was worn out by that first battle and died partway through the first film.

Morgan Creek’s James G. Robinson said the company hopes to get the prequel going in Africa in mid-1998. “I wouldn’t even attempt it without the kind of talent and savvy Bill Wisher has brought to every project,” he says.

Wisher’s repped by agent Geoffrey Brandt and attorneys Tom Hansen and Tom McGuire.

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