Netflix Ponies Up $65 Million For Exorcism Thriller From Lee Daniels In Heated Bidding War

Since the dawn of the moving picture, horror has always been one of the most prolific and profitable genres of film, but considering how disparaged the genre is by the awards circuit, it's still exciting whenever a bidding war takes place on a new title. Seven different bidders were possessed this weekend in an auction for a new exorcism movie, directed by Academy Award-nominated director, Lee Daniels. The eventual victor was Netflix, who nabbed the rights to the film for a whopping $65 million, the total needed to cover the film's budget and buyouts.

The currently unnamed exorcism film will be the second collaboration between Daniels and the star of the Oscar-nominated "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," Andra Day, who will be starring alongside Octavia Spencer ("Ma," "The Shape of Water"), Glenn Close ("The Girl with All The Gifts," "Fatal Attraction"), Rob Morgan ("Stranger Things," "Brawl in Cell Block 99") Caleb Mclaughlin ("Stranger Things," "Concrete Cowboy"), and Aunjanue Ellis ("King Richard," "Lovecraft Country"). With the exception of Day, who has only recently become a crossover artist from her highly successful music career, the cast are some of the absolute best talents working in the industry, all of which have a history of performing prominent roles in horror properties. Daniels, Tucker Tooley and Pam Williams are producing the film.

The Film Is Based on a True Story

As with most exorcist films, Daniels' story is based on true events, specifically the alleged events known as the Ammons Haunting from 2011. The case made headlines across the country when it first happened, centering on Latoya Ammons, her mother, Rosa Campbell, and Latoya's three children who allegedly experienced unexplained incidents in their Gary, Indiana home, quickly escalating into a dangerous territory. The children were said to levitate, grow increasingly violent, and speak in voices that were not their own, doing all of this without any memory of having done it. As the family struggled, the Gary Police Department, Department of Child Services, the local hospital, and a local church all became involved, with many corroborating Latoya Ammons' claims, including the Chief of Police and a DCFS agent who claimed to have witnessed her 9-year-old son scale a wall backwards.

The Ammons house was purchased by Zak Bagans in 2014 and was the subject of his documentary, "Demon House," and Daniels has been working on getting this exorcism movie off the ground ever since. A lot of the exorcism movies we know and love are based on cases that existed long before the days of aggressive fact-checking, but the Ammons Haunting and subsequent exorcism was barely a decade ago, and comes with the blatant racism Ammons faced by skeptics who believed the possession story was merely a cover for poor parenting. This may feel a little out of Daniels' wheelhouse, but knowing he's dedicated the better part of a decade trying to make this happen is definitely piquing my interest.

The film is said to begin production sometime by the middle of 2022.