Fans can get finally get a look at the other side of the Exorcist prequel coin this week with the DVD release of Paul Schrader's Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist. It is the point to Renny Harlin's 2004 counterpoint Exorcist: The Beginning, and while it is a slightly better film than Harlin's, there remains a question as to why production company Morgan Creek commissioned either one of them, or why Warner Brothers bothered to re-cut the original Exorcist, as they did back in 2000.
The story of why there were two somewhat similar prequels goes like this: Morgan Creek had first planned to make the film with John Frankenheimer directing and Liam Neeson as Father Merrin. The veteran Manchurian Candidate director fell ill, though (and later died), so Morgan Creek tapped writer and sometimes director Schrader, Scorsese's scribe on Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ. Schrader was to craft a compelling story of Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) and his first contact with the demon that the Max Von Sydow version of himself would meet 25 years later when it possessed young Regan MacNeill in a posh Washington brownstone. Schrader, with a screenplay by William Wisher and novelist Caleb Carr, completed the film, which was ultimately rejected by Morgan Creek, which apparently wanted something more traditional. Translation: they wanted something the kids would dig.