EXCLUSIVE: Production has been set to begin on the sequel to horror/thriller hit The Last Exorcism next month in New Orleans. Ed Gass-Donnelly, whose credits include This Beautiful City and Small Town Murder Songs, will direct the R-rated follow-up to the 2010 PG-13 pic that grossed $70 million worldwide on a budget of $1.5 million. Ashley Bell is returning to reprise her role as Nell Sweetzer for the Damien Chazelle-penned film. As with the original, Eli Roth is producing via Arcade Pictures with Eric Newman, Marc Abraham and Tom Bliss producing via Strike Entertainment. Studiocanal will fully finance and kick off international sales at the European Film Market in Berlin next month. The original picture centered on a charlatan exorcist facing a crisis of conscience who invites a documentary crew on his final exorcism where he comes across the possessed Nell. I’ve been told the sequel will pick up three months after that film left off, although further story details are being kept under wraps. Delivery is expected for late 2012. Roth says he’s “very, very excited to continue to this story. Obviously with the title of the first one we had not planned on a sequel, but we love the story and subject matter and had what we feel is an inspired idea to continue it. As you can see from other recent films, fans around the world are fascinated by this subject matter, and we want to go deeper and darker this time. The first film worked great as a PG-13 psychological film, but now we want to go R-rated and show the true horror of what this subject matter offers. The biggest creative challenge will be coming up with the right title!” Newman says, “On behalf of the producing team, we are excited to put the next installment of Nell’s story in the capable hands of Ed Gass-Donnelly. His naturalistic style and performance-based filmmaking make him the perfect choice.” Studiocanal EVP of international distribution, Harold Van Lier, adds, “We are horrified to bring to the marketplace the eagerly awaited sequel to our 2010 worldwide hit. This much bigger scale movie will unravel a profoundly scarier chapter to Nell’s battle between good and evil. God have mercy.”

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