Demon thriller Exorcist: The Beginning debuted as the No. 1 weekend movie with $18.2-million, displacing Alien vs. Predator, which tumbled to No. 4 with $12.5-million, studio estimates showed Sunday.
Original star Liam Neeson departed after director John Frankenheimer dropped out. Skarsgard replaced Neeson and filmed the movie with director Paul Schrader, whose version was shelved by the producers as not scary enough.
Director Renny Harlin shot a second version, keeping Skarsgard but replacing other cast members and tweaking the story.
“We had so much baggage from the fact that two movies were shot and so many things had happened along the way. It created in the press the kind of perception that this is a troubled production,” Harlin said. “While really, the shooting of this version was extremely smooth,” reported The Globe and Mail.
"It's been a tightrope to complete the film in time," Harlin told Variety. "I think in terms of critics, we were in a situation where it was impossible to win people [over]. But what we hear from the movie theatres is that people are enjoying it," has written The Guardian.
The original "The Exorcist" is regarded as a modern classic. It was the story of a young girl possessed by an ancient demon. Two priests confront the entity -- young Father Karras, who is losing his faith, and aging Father Merrin, whose clashes with evil have strengthened his spirit but weakened his body.
The movie was famous for scenes where the young girl projectile-vomits a green "pea soup" fluid and rotates her head 360 degrees. It became a blockbuster and -- unusual for a horror movie -- collected 10 Academy Award nominations, including best picture. It won best adapted screenplay and best sound.
Two lesser sequels followed: "Exorcist II: The Heretic" in 1977 with Richard Burton, and "The Exorcist III" in 1990 with George C. Scott.
Then in February 2001, Morgan Creek Productions announced it was casting for a prequel to the original story, told CNN.