Celebrated writer-director Paul Schrader has been dismissed from EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING over a creative dispute with production company Morgan Creek. Reports of friction have been rampant for weeks, with the NEW YORK POST affirming that Schrader was fired in its Page Six column on Aug. 25, 2003. Warner Bros., which will distribute the prequel to the legendary horror classic, deferred inquiries to Morgan Creek, and a spokesperson there was unavailable for comment.
Schrader allegedly turned in his final cut to Morgan Creek, which hated the meditative, restrained nature of the sequel. One insider has speculated that the production company would hire a new director to add a little gore, while screenwriter Caleb Carr (THE ALIENIST) has suggested that Schrader just didn't deliver the psychological jolt inherent in his script. Director John Frankenheimer was first attached to the project before passing away.
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING stars Stellan Skarsgard as Father Merrin, who first encounters the demon Pazuzu for the first time in post World War II Africa. Proxima, an Italian digital effects partner of famed Cinecittà Studios in Rome, did a large portion of the VFX work. In fact, the move marks a pivotal point in Cinecittà's expansion into the digital arena. Morgan Creek was the first American production company to take full advantage of Cinecittà Studios' post-production facilities.
Among the new technological advances utilized on the prequel is the Univisium 1:2 format, invented by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, which allows for the processing of film at a quality level twice as high as the digital quality applied at most other places (4K, or 4,000 pixels-per-frame, as opposed to 2K, or 2,000 pixels-per-frame).