Schrader's 'Exorcist' to bow May 20

Nearly three years after Paul Schrader began production on his prequel to “The Exorcist,” Morgan Creek Prods. has decided to give the pic a theatrical life. It will bow May 20, the same day as “Star Wars” — albeit in considerably more limited release.

Warner Bros. Pictures will handle the pic’s distribution, under its former arrangement with the shingle. Schrader’s movie began production in November 2002 and Morgan Creek left the Warners lot for Universal Pictures in late 2003.

Morgan Creek’s Jim Robinson pulled the plug on Schrader’s nearly finished film in September 2003 over creative differences — Robinson wanted pea soup and Schrader didn’t.

The producer shelled out another $35 million to have Renny Harlin take another stab at it, with Stellan Skarsgard once again starring as troubled Father Merrin. Harlin’s film was released last August and earned about $80 million worldwide.

That might have been the end of the story had Schrader not decided to take his finished film to the Brussels Fantasy Film Festival last month for its world premiere.

Morgan Creek Intl. handled the pic’s foreign distribution, and Schrader’s film has already been released in the Netherlands.

Now all that remains is the matter of a title. Harlin’s pic took the original title of “Exorcist: The Beginning.” In Brussels, Schrader’s movie screened as “Paul Schrader’s The Exorcist: The Original Prequel.” Now Morgan Creek is leaning toward “Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist.”

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