'The Exorcist: Believer'
Signage at a Los Angeles screening touts 'The Exorcist: Believer' on October 4, 2023. AFP

Fifty years after the original, newly released "The Exorcist: Believer" topped the North American box office this weekend with an estimated $27.2 million in ticket sales, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday.

Analyst David A. Gross called that "a good opening for a horror sequel," the best of any of the "Exorcist" movies, despite what he said were poor reviews and lukewarm audience scores for Blumhouse and Universal's Halloween-timed film.

Like the original, "Believer" features possessed victims convulsing, covered in sores and speaking in tongues. It also has a decidedly interfaith exorcism. Leslie Odom Jr. and Ann Dowd star, with an appearance by Ellen Burstyn from the 1973 original.

"Believer" was to have opened on Friday the 13th, but the studio moved up its release to avoid conflicting with the release that day of "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour," a concert film certain to generate big numbers, Variety reported.

Last weekend's box office leader, Paramount's family-friendly "Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie," slipped slightly to second, at $11.8 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.

The Paw pups, using new superpowers as they fight to protect their city, are voiced by actors Taraji P. Henson, Chris Rock, Serena Williams and McKenna Grace.

In third, also down one spot, is Lionsgate's horror flick "Saw X," at $8.2 million. This latest in the "Saw" series, again with Tobin Bell as the infamous Jigsaw, has received strongly positive reviews.

The fourth spot, down from third, went to 20th Century sci-fi thriller "The Creator," at $6.1 million. John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe and Allison Janney play humans in a world at war with artificial intelligence.

Holding steady in fifth was Fathom Events' faith-based movie "The Blind," at $3.1 million. It portrays the real-life struggles of swamp-dwelling reality TV star Phil Robertson with addiction and romance.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

"A Haunting in Venice" ($2.7 million)

"The Nun II" ($2.6 million)

"Dumb Money" ($2.2 million)

"The Equalizer 3" ($1.8 million)

"Hocus Pocus: 30th Anniversary" ($1.5 million)

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