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Al Pacino and Dan Stevens cast for exorcism story based off true accounts in "The Ritual" from XYZ Films

Al Pacino photo credit:  Brigitte Lacombe 

Dan Stevens photo credit: Sam Jones

In a lesser-known exorcism saga, the mysterious case of Emma Schmidt—or perhaps Anna Ecklund—unfolds. This captivating narrative delves into years of relentless exorcisms and rituals, attempting to free a woman possibly possessed since age 14. Today, XYZ revealed their acquisition of worldwide rights for the horror film "The Ritual," featuring Academy Award-winner Al Pacino and Dan Stevens. Directed by Midell, XYZ intends to debut the film in theaters in 2025. Dive into the full details below.

XYZ Films has acquired worldwide rights to the exorcism horror film The Ritual, starring Academy Award-winner Al Pacino (The Godfather trilogy) and Dan Stevens (Abigail), and directed by David Midell. The film was written by Midell and Enrico Natale, and produced by Andrew Stevens, Mitchell Welch and Natale. Ashley Greene and Abigail Cowen round out the cast. XYZ will release the film theatrically in 2025, and arrange international distribution at the upcoming Cannes market. 

Based on a true story, The Ritual follows two priests - one questioning his faith (Stevens) and one reckoning with a troubled past (Pacino) – who must put aside their differences to save a possessed young woman through a difficult and dangerous series of exorcisms. The film is an authentic portrayal of Emma Schmidt, an American woman whose demonic possession culminated in harrowing exorcisms. Her case remains the most thoroughly documented exorcism in American history.

Al Pacino is an award-winning, iconic actor celebrated for his legendary performances in film and theater. He is renowned for his roles as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, and his electrifying portrayal of Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. 


Dan Stevens most recently appeared in the films Abigail, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, and as a voice in the Academy Award-winning animated feature The Boy and the Heron. Upcoming, Stevens will star alongside Hunter Schafer in Tilman Singer’s Cuckoo, which will be released by Neon on August 2nd. Previous film credits include Beauty and the Beast, I’m Your Man, and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.


David Midell is an Independent Spirit and NAACP Image Award nominated filmmaker. His last film, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, was released theatrically to critical acclaim, including multiple Independent Spirit Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award, and a Gotham Award for Outstanding Lead Performance for Frankie Faison. The film was executive produced by Lori McCreary, Gary Lucchesi, and Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman.


Enrico Natale is Midell’s creative partner, and the other half of the creative force behind The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. Natale produced, edited, and starred in the award-winning feature. Midell and Natale’s collaborations have produced over a dozen film festival awards, three Independent Spirit Awards nominations, a Gotham Award, and accolades from all areas of the industry.


Current titles from the XYZ Films studio include Sundance title Skywalkers: A Love Story, which sold to Netflix, and BlackBerry starring Gotham and Independent Spirit-award nominee Glenn Howerton, which was released by IFC Films, Atom Egoyan’s TIFF selection Seven Veils starring Amanda Seyfried, Ash starring Eiza González and Aaron Paul and directed by Flying Lotus, recent TIFF acquisition Backspot starring Devery Jacobs and Evan Rachel Wood, the Netflix Original Havoc, directed by Gareth Evans and starring Tom Hardy and Forrest Whitaker, and Daniela Forever directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Henry Golding and Beatrice Grannó. The company’s classic titles include The Raid franchise, 2017 Sundance winner I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, Panos Cosmatos' psychedelic revenge thriller Mandy, and Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation.

Pacino is repped by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller, Gellman, Meigs & Fox. Stevens is represented by CAA, Julian Belfrage Associates, and Peikoff Mahan Law Office. Midell is repped by XYZ Films. 

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