Vatican-set tale is based on true story

Though horror films seem to cycle through ups and downs at the box office, the exorcism subgenre has consistently brought in the green — and not just the iconic pea-soup green Linda Blair made famous in “The Exorcist.”

Most recently, Lionsgate grossed $41 million in the U.S. with “The Last Exorcism.”

Now New Line is going the true-life route with “The Rite,” starring Anthony Hopkins as an expert in exorcisms, set to bow in January. Pic’s based on Matt Baglio’s tome “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist.”

The story is centered on a parish priest in San Jose, Calif., asked by his bishop to travel to Rome for training in the rite of exorcism at a Vatican-affiliated university. He eventually performed more than 80 exorcisms.

Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones are also in the cast opposite Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue as the priest.

Contrafilm’s Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are producing, and Mikael Hafstrom is directing from Michael Petroni’s screenplay.

New Line can look to a clutch of exorcism titles for inspiration: Though none have approached the $400 million-plus worldwide of “The Exorcist,” 2005’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” did $140 million worldwide, while 2004’s “The Exorcist: The Beginning” took in $78 million worldwide.

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