It's become fairly commonplace for TV series based on classic films to reinterpret the source material, and basically act like the films didn't happen. Recent examples of this would be A&E's BATES MOTEL or NBC's HANNIBAL, the latter of which drew inspiration from a combination of the books and the movies without being a direct adaptation of either. Upcoming shows based on LETHAL WEAPON and RUSH HOUR will also, essentially, reboot the properties.
When it comes to Fox's THE EXORCIST, which is set to premiere later this year, it would appear that they're going to take a route similar to the now-cancelled CBS show LIMITLESS by having the series be a sequel to the film on which it's based.
"It was important to have those nods and homages to the original films that fans are going to be looking for,” Jeremy Slater, the creator and executive producer for the series, said at the 2016 Summer TCA press tour. “It was important to let everyone know that this is a continuation of that existing story. We want to do justice to the legacy of The Exorcist."
Slater revealed that the series will take place a few years after the Georgetown exorcisms depicted in 1990's THE EXORCIST III.
"I think The Exorcist III gets a bad rap. Is it as good as the original? No, because nothing is as good as the original,” Slater told reporters. "The problem with the sequels is that the sequels tried to duplicate the beats of the original film. We can’t retell the same story. We can’t remake the same show you’ve seen before. The only way you can succeed is telling a new story with new characters."
Speaking of characters, Slater says that the series wants to create incredible people that you'll want to follow in the new show- with their own interesting arcs and subplots. "People won’t tune in week after week for gore or scares or shock value. People tune in for stories about characters,” Slater said. “You need the propulsive twists and turns and we have plenty of plot twists coming this season." It's an approach that sounds similar to the aforementioned BATES MOTEL, which expanded the mythos to include new characters and plot beats so that it wouldn't rely solely on creepy psycho Norman Bates.
Slater thinks the way they've cracked the story actually gives them enough fertile ground to make a series that has serious legs.
"The basic idea is that this time around, evil has grander ambitions than just targeting one eight-year-old girl in Georgetown," Slater revealed. "By the time you get a few episodes in, you see how this can be a show that runs for eight seasons."
The producer also says that the fact that the first EXORCIST was so iconic, and inspired so many copycats, led the creative team behind the show to really step up their game.
"There have been 40 years of inferior imitations coming along to dilute the source material,” Slater said. “We have a lot of horror fans behind the scenes who can point out if that’s been done before, etcetera. There have been images used in the public conscience so much that they lose the shock they once had. It forces you to be better writers and creators and come up with new scares. We’ve been learning a lot about what works for TV and what doesn’t."
We'll find out what Slater and co. have cooked up when THE EXORCIST premieres on Fox on September 23.