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Rejected poster designs for The Exorcist

An exhibition showcasing movie poster designs rejected by Hollywood studios over the years features two rare Exorcist posters.

It’s hard to imagine The Exorcist being promoted without the iconic image of Father Merrin stepping out of that Georgetown cab and walking into the beam of light from Regan’s window, but Warner Brothers almost went in a different direction.

Rejected Exorcist poster design by Bill Gold

Designed by graphic artist Bill Gold, who began working for Warner Brothers art department in 1942, the two posters are part of a gallery at Daybees.com which also includes rejected designs for movies such as Unforgiven, A Clockwork Orange, Batman, and Pulp Fiction.

The first (my favourite, as seen above) depicts Regan’s bedroom door cracked open from a low angle, hinting at the evil that lurks within. The other, a much simpler composition (see below), shows a smiling Linda Blair in a wholesome photo album picture with the caption “Deliver her from evil.”

I find the most glaring deterrent for these rejected posters is the unusual choice of typeface used for “The Exorcist” title. It’s more wholesome than eerie and doesn’t reflect the film well. Of course, it’s easy to say after the film’s success and being so used to seeing the “Merrin arrives” designs.

Rejected Exorcist poster design by Bill Gold

About Jason Stringer

Former Webmaster of captainhowdy.com

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  • Agreed, but don’t you mean “wholesome” or “comely”?

  • Wholesome, yes. Thank you!
    “Homely” was accidentally left behind after editing that sentence.

  • Happens all the time on my ipad… She looks too exuberant in that poster! (And in the other, the Raggedy-Ann is over-the-top precious)…

  • Raggedy is looking a little “available”, Captain Howdy and his puppets….

  • Benji J Ponton

    The first one with the door kinda looks like what they went with for the Exorcist “rip-off” Beyond the Door.

  • Noir Katz

    I wish they had gone with the first design. My favorite visual from the film is when Regan’s door shuts and cracks up the middle.

  • Fabrizio Garza

    The original poster desing couldn’t be better… Father Merrin standing looking at the window, like thinking: “This is the ending, time to say goodbye to this world, please God give me courage”… Merrin already knew it, he knew that the evil was back, but he was ready to fight? Actually I just bought 40th Anniversary blu ray edition, and I liked the cover with the creepy long stairs, but can’t be compare to original one. Greetings from México!

  • iNeyanSespo427

    The first one was weird, for there was a Raggedy Ann doll in the door, that has nothing to do with The Exorcist.

  • Black Candy

    The first one isn’t bad. If you put the actual logo on it you’ll change your idea 😉

  • Travis Pickle

    dodgy font