By Andrew Dalton – AP Entertainment Writer

“The Exorcist: Believer” drove out all foes at the box office, but its numbers didn’t entirely make heads spin.

Facing competition from no major new releases, the latest resurrection of the demonic franchise brought in $27.2 million in North America in its opening weekend for Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, according to studio estimates.

That was more than the weekend take of the next three films combined. But while it nearly earned back its reported budget of $30 million in just a few days, the take for “The Exorcist: Believer” was underwhelming after the two companies paid $400 million in 2021 for the rights to a new trilogy.

Last week’s top film, “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” was a distant second, with $11.8 million, and has earned $38.9 million after two weekends for Paramount Pictures. Another horror sequel, “Saw X,” was third for Lionsgate Films, with $8.2 million, and has brought in $32.6 million after two weekends.

Horror films made up four of the top 10, and they could see some sustained numbers as Halloween comes closer. “It seems like the demand for the horror genre by audiences is never ending,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “The communal theater experience is tailor-made for it.”

The new “Exorcist” was released just shy of the 50th anniversary of the original horror classic, and it comes just two months after the death of the original film’s director, William Friedkin.

Directed by David Gordon Green, who has become a legacy sequel specialist after helming a trilogy of “Halloween” films, “The Exorcist: Believer” stars “Hamilton” actor Leslie Odom Jr., with Lidya Jewett as his 13-year-old daughter.

The film got poor reviews — managing a critics score of just 23% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Estimated ticket sales for last weekend, according to Comscore:

1 – “The Exorcist: Believer,” $27.2 million.

2 – “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” $11.8 million.

3 – “Saw X,” $8.2 million.

4 – “The Creator,” $6.1 million.

5 – “The Blind,” $3.1 million.

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