In a press release today Warner Home Video announced the release date and special features for the upcoming 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release of The Exorcist. Save your pennies for October 8 (close to Halloween, as expected).
Two new features have been announced. The first, Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, is a featurette in which Blatty talks about writing the novel, including a visit to the cabin where he wrote every page; and iconic locations around Georgetown University where the novel and film are set. The second, Talk of the Devil, sounds like it is never-before-seen stock footage of Father Eugene Gallagher talking about the real case of exorcism Blatty based his book on, among other things, filmed at the time of The Exorcist’s release.
While these two features are certainly intriguing, they are the only new material fans will find on this particular release. Sadly, everything else seems to be carried over from the initial 2010 Blu-ray release (of which the bulk of material was taken from the DVD days of the 25th Anniversary). The same-old commentaries, TV/radio spots, trailers, featurettes, all here again.
That’s not to say this isn’t a complete package– it is! Anyone buying The Exorcist for the first time will definitely get a kick out of it. But there’s really no incentive for anyone who picked up the 2010 Blu-ray to go out of their way to add this to their collection, let alone fans who collect every. single. release. I’m looking at you, Discussion Forum members.
Last year, director William Friedkin was raving about a new print of The Exorcist he had prepared that was supposed to be used on this 40th Anniversary release. While that may still be the case, the lengthy press release makes absolutely no mention of it. I’m wondering if they may have hedged their bets and just used the 2010 transfer after all?
I’ll be interested to hear how fans feel about this press release. Is it our own fault for having unrealistic high hopes, or is this as disappointing as it reads? I understand there’s only so much they can do with a film of this age and limited resources for juicy features, but still…
I’ve pasted the entire press release below. Thanks to Justin for posting it in the Discussion Forum. Please join us there to share your thoughts.
“’The Exorcist is both my own favorite film and the greatest film ever made.” — Mark Kermode, Sight and Sound Magazine
CELEBRATES 40TH ANNIVERSARY OCTOBER 8
Blu-ray’ Includes the Extended Director’s Cut, Theatrical Version
with New Special Features and Premiums
Burbank, Calif. June 20, 2013 – When The Exorcist was first released in 1973, viewers were frightened out of their wits – and literally out of their seats. Now Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) will celebrate the 40thanniversary of Academy Award® winning director William Friedkin’s suspense masterpiece that haunted and intrigued the world, with a new Blu-ray release featuring the Extended Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version with new special features and premiums ($49.99 SRP). Available October 8, just ahead of Halloween, this 40thAnniversary Edition will include two new featurettes: “Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist” and “Talk of the Devil,” as well as an excerpt from Friedkin’s book The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir.
A true cinema landmark, the theological thriller is one of the top ten box-office performers of all time.* The Exorcist took 10 Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, and won two Oscars®, for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as winning for Best Sound. Subsequently, the film went on to become a multi-million dollar franchise. Directed by Friedkin (Oscar®-winner for The French Connection – Directing 1971) and written by William Peter Blatty, the film is based on his best-selling novel, which sold nearly 13 million copies domestically and was the #1 book on the New York Times Best Seller List for 57 weeks, 17 of them at #1.
Regarding the Extended Director’s Cut, Friedkin says, “After my initial cut, I took out 12 more minutes before we released it in theatres. Years later, Bill Blatty asked if I’d review some of that rejected footage (which he always felt should have remained) with an eye towards putting it back in a new version. In so doing I believe we strengthened the spiritual aspect of the film.”
Celebrated for his directorial role in this seminal film, Friedkin is still very much in the limelight. His new book, The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir, recently published by HarperCollins, extensively discusses the background and casting of The Exorcist. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films will honor Friedkin this month with their Lifetime Achievement Award for his continually influential work in genre entertainment at this year’s Saturn Awards. In August, Friedkin will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 70thVenice International Film Festival, where he will present the restored version of Warner Bros.’ Sorcerer. And Friedkin and author Blatty will attend a special 40th Anniversary screening of their film at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. on October 30. The film will also have an exclusive theatrical engagement October 31 through November 7th at the AMC Georgetown.
The Exorcist tells the now-famous story of a girl’s demonic possession, and a gripping fight between good and evil. Linda Blair, in a breakout role, plays Regan, a young girl who starts to exhibit strange, arcane behavior. Her mother (Ellen Burstyn, Oscar-winner for Best Actress Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) calls upon a priest, Father Karras (Jason Miller) to investigate. But Karras, who has a spiritual crisis of his own, is suddenly confronted with the unimaginable evil of Regan’s possession. Father Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow), an archeologist-priest, is called to help, and a horrific battle for her soul begins.
- Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (NEW) 40 years after his novel was published,The Exorcist author, screenwriter and producer returns to where it all began. First stop is a cabin/guest house in the hills of Encino, California, where Blatty wrote the novel. The author visits the place for the first time in 40 years and shares not only memories of writing the book, but also discusses how it inspired him. We then meet Blatty in two key and iconic locations; Georgetown University where the film was shot, and at the now-famous Exorcist steps. Throughout, Blatty reads from his novel, including an excerpt from a chilling newly published passage.
- Talk of the Devil (NEW) – While at Georgetown University, William Peter Blatty heard about a true case of possession from Father Eugene Gallagher. At the time the film came out, the priest talked at length about exorcism, the true story and about Blatty; this footage is now available for the first time in many years. It is as revealing as it is shocking.
- Two Commentaries by William Friedkin
- Commentary by William Peter Blatty
- Introduction by William Friedkin
- 1998 BBC Documentary “The Fear of God: 25 Years of the Exorcist”
- Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist Set footage produced and photographed by Owen Roizman, camera and makeup tests, and interviews with director William Friedkin, actress Linda Blair, author/screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty and Owen Roizman.
- The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now — Featuring a tour of the iconic locations where the film was shot.
- Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist — with director William Friedkin and author/screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty discussing the different versions of the film and featuring outtakes from the film.
- Original Ending
– The Original Cut
– Stairway to Heaven
– The Final Reckoning
- Sketches & Storyboards
- Radio Spots
- TV Spots
- Excerpt of The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir
The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Extended Director’s Cut Blu-ray’
Street Date: October 8, 2013
Order Due Date: September 3, 2013
Run Time: 132min (Extended Director’s Cut);122 (Theatrical Version)
Pricing: $49.99 SRP
Note: All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.
* Source: boxofficemojo.com, adjusted for inflation.
Academy Award(s)® and Oscar(s)® are registered trademarks and services marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Blu-ray Disc’ and Blu-ray’ and the logos are the trademarks of Blu-ray Disc Association. 1973 (46th)
Warner Home Video Blu-ray Discs’ offer resolution six times higher than standard definition DVDs, as well as extraordinarily vibrant contrast and color and beautifully crisp sound. The format also provides a higher level of interactivity, with instant access to extra features via a seamless menu bar where viewers can enjoy features without leaving or interrupting the film.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE — Jason Miller
ACTRESS — Ellen Burstyn
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE — Linda Blair
ART DIRECTION — Art Direction: Bill Malley; Set Decoration: Jerry Wunderlich
CINEMATOGRAPHY — Owen Roizman
DIRECTING — William Friedkin
FILM EDITING — Jordan Leondopoulos, Bud Smith, Evan Lottman, Norman Gay
BEST PICTURE — William Peter Blatty, Producer
SOUND — Robert Knudson, Chris Newman
WRITING (Screenplay–based on material from another medium) — William Peter Blatty  1973 (46th)
SOUND — Robert Knudson, Chris Newman
WRITING (Screenplay–based on material from another medium) — William Peter Blatty
About Warner Home Video:
With operations in 90 international territories, Warner Home Video, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., commands the largest home entertainment distribution infrastructure in the global video marketplace. Warner Home Video’s film library is the largest of any studio, offering top quality new and vintage titles from the repertoires of Warner Bros. Pictures, Turner Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment, HBO Video and New Line Cinema.