James Wan

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James Wan
James Wan by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wan at WonderCon, 30 March 2013
Born (1977-02-27) 27 February 1977 (age 38)
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Nationality Australian
Occupation Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active 1999–present
James Wan
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese 温子仁

James Wan (born 27 February 1977)[1] is a Sarawakian-born Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence, Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010), Insidious: Chapter 2 and The Conjuring (2013). As of October 2014, Wan is directing Furious 7, which is due for release in 2015.


2000–2006: Stygian, Saw to Saw III[edit]

Main article: Saw (franchise)

Before his success in the mainstream film industry, he made his first feature length film, Stygian, with Shannon Young, which won "Best Guerrilla Film" at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in 2000.[2]

Since creating the franchise, Wan and Leigh Whannell have served as executive producers to the sequels Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV,[3] Saw V, Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.

The release of Saw 3D, complete with its subtitle, was to signify the completion of the franchise; however, Costas Mandylor, an actor in the seventh instalment, revealed that multiple endings to the film had been shot and the series could continue depending on which was used. The sixth sequel continued the profit margin performance of the original film and earned USD136 million in the global market, based on a production budget of USD20 million, while all films in the series have grossed over USD100 million in the American market. In August, 2012, various online horror publications stated that a source at Lionsgate, the franchise's production company, had revealed intentions for an eighth Saw sequel, but it was at a "tinkering" stage at the time of the disclosure.[4][5][6]

2007–2009: Dead Silence, Death Sentence[edit]

In 2007, Wan directed two feature films. The first of which was the horror film Dead Silence, a film that was the result of advice from Wan and Whannell's agent at the time; Whannell has since stated that the film was a negative experience for him:

It all started when James and I returned from the Sundance Film Festival, where we had screened 'Saw' to much success. Our 'representatives' promptly told us that we should get another deal for a film stitched up before it was released. It was presented as a kind of insurance - if 'Saw' was a flop, we had another film to fall back on. Seems logical. There was only one problem - I didn't have any ideas for a new film. I had barely been able to catch my breath throughout the whole 'Saw' experience, let alone dream up another film idea. Instead of telling our representatives that they had to wait until I came up with an idea I really liked though, I locked myself in the bedroom of the crappy apartment we had rented in Hollywood and tried to force an idea out like a particularly stubborn hangover shit. It was creativity at gunpoint. If I could go back in time, I would politely tell everyone to go fuck themselves, but back then....no. I paced and paced and even took up smoking for a while, so stressed out was I.[7]

Dead Silence featured Australian actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood television series), and is based on the premise of a legend, whereby the ghost of a ventriloquist, Mary Shaw, removes the tongue of any person who screams in its presence. Rather than a gore movie, Wan described the film as "a creepy doll movie. It's in the spirit of those old Twilight Zone episodes or Hammer Horror Films. Very old-school."[8][9][10]

Wan's second directorial film of 2007 was Death Sentence, a film adapted from the Brian Garfield novel of the same name that was written as the sequel to Death Wish.[11][12] The film's protagonist is played by Kevin Bacon and has no connection to the horror genre—instead, Bacon stars as a father who seeks revenge for his murdered son, who is killed by a local gang. Whannell features as a minor character in the film, playing one of the gang members who is eventually killed by Bacon's character.[13][14] Wan described the film as "a raw and gritty, 70s styled revenge thriller ... It's my arthouse movie with guns."[8]

Having worked on his previous three films continuously, Wan told CraveOnline that he was ready for "a bit of time off just to chill... but at the same time I'm using this opportunity to write again" following the completion of Death Sentence.[15]

2010–2013: Insidious, The Conjuring, Insidious: Chapter 2[edit]

Next, Wan directed the horror film Insidious, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the "Midnight Madness" programme and was sold to Sony Pictures Worldwide for a seven-figure sum within four hours of the premiere's conclusion. The film began its American theatrical release in the first weekend of April 2011 and achieved third place at the box office, with an estimated USD13.5 million in ticket sales.[16]

Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey, the film was made independently, as Wan sought complete creative control and also wanted to make a film that was markedly different from the gore that he had become synonymous with due to Saw. Wan stated in an interview, "the fact that Insidious was not being run by a committee really afforded me the luxury to make a film with lots of creepy, bizarre moments that a studio might not 'get.'"[17] Both Wan and Whannel stated that they wanted to use techniques such as restraint and silence to create a horror film, similar to The Sixth Sense, The Others and David Lynch's films.

Following the release of Insidious, Wan revealed in an interview, in regard to his career beyond the film: "I definitely do want to experiment in other genres, or make films in other genres because I love, Leigh and I have, we're not just horror fans. We're film fans. I love action films. I want to do action films. I want to do romantic comedies. I love all this stuff. So, if I find the good material, I'll do it."[16]

The horror film news website Bloody Disgusting confirmed Wan's directorial involvement with a film entitled The Warren Files. The film, later retitled The Conjuring, centred on the real life exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple that investigated paranormal events.[18] The film focused on the couple's most famous case second to the Amityville haunting, in which they investigated a witch's curse on a Rhode Island family farm. In his second collaboration with the pair, Patrick Wilson featured in the film, and he and actress Vera Farmiga played paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, respectively.[19] Filming commenced in North Carolina, United States,[19] in late February 2012, and New Line Cinema, together with Warner Bros. Pictures, had initially slated the film for a release on 25 January 2013.[20][21] A test screening of the film occurred in October 2012 at the New York Comic Con event, where it screened in the IGN Theater, and the audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive. At that stage, Wan had several more weeks before the film was completed. The film was released in July 2013,[22] and has received acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

After work on The Conjuring was complete, Wan directed a sequel to 2010's Insidious. The film was once again written by Wan's longtime collaborator and close friend, Whannel, and the cast of the original film returned. Filming for the sequel commenced in January 2013, and the film was released on 13 September 2013. The budget for the film had been described as "shoestring" by one media outlet. Oren Peli, the creator of the Paranormal Activity franchise, returned as an executive producer.[23] Film District distributed Insidious: Chapter 2.[24]

Wan stated in an interview following a test screening of The Conjuring:

I think the sequel to 'Insidious’ is kind of my reaction to Saw, where for my own reason I wasn’t as involved in the sequels, and so I felt with Insidious, I think it would be good to shepherd it and keep it more in track to the version I had when I made the first film so that it doesn’t detour too far. So yeah, I’m kind of working with Leigh [Whannell] on the story and the script.

I never set out to make sequels to any of my films I direct," Wan further explained. "If they happen, that’s great because that means people out there love it and they want more of it, but I always felt with Insidious we created this really interesting world that we can explore more, and so even though we didn’t set out to make a sequel, I felt that there are stories still out there that could be told.[22]

2014–present: Furious 7, The Conjuring 2[edit]

As of 11 April 2013, Wan entered into negotiations with Universal Pictures to direct the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious action franchise after Justin Lin, who directed the previous four sequels, confirmed that he would not continue as director in January 2013. Wan was an inclusion on a directorial shortlist alongside Jeff Wadlow, Baltasar Kormákur and Harald Zwart.[25] A final confirmation of Wan's directorial role was revealed in an article published on 17 April 2013,[26] while Lin was quoted in an article that was published on 10 April 2013: "It’s time for me to move on to other things and I’m thrilled that Universal and Neal have selected James Wan to lead the franchise into its new chapter."[27][28]

On 20 October, the Gary Maddox of The Sydney Morning Herald announced that Wan had agreed to direct the Conjuring 2 sequel as part of a significant long-term deal with New Line Cinema. Head of New Line, Toby Emmerich, explained that Wan is the sole director that the studio signed a deal with, as New Line considers Wan to be "a class of one".[29] The original release date for the sequel was 23 October 2015, but, according to media reports published in October 2014, New Line delayed the release to June 10, 2016.[30]


Wan produced Demonic, a Dimension Films horror movie that was scheduled for a December 2014 release, alongside Lee Clay. Wan conceived of the idea for the film, which is directed by Will Canon and features Maria Bello in the lead acting role. Max La Bella penned the script.[31]

Wan then served as a producer on Annabelle, a spin-off of The Conjuring that served as a prequel to the 2013 film. The spin-off was profitable for the New Line film production company, as it was made for a cost of US$6.5 million and, as of 21 October 2014, had grossed US$166 million worldwide since it was publicly launched on 5 October 2014.[30]

Unreleased projects[edit]

It was announced that an adaptation of the graphic novel Nightfall was to be Wan's next film after Death Sentence. The plot involves the events that take place after a criminal is sent to a Texas prison run by vampires.[32] However, as of December 2012, the director's IMDB page does not list the film, nor is the project classified as a film in "pre-production" or a project in the "filming" stage.

In 2009, a Whannel–Wan collaborative project, called "X Ray", was announced and was described as a new "film noir/action project", with producer Robbie Brenner also attached to the project; however, as of December 2012, no further developments were reported.[33]

Future projects[edit]

On 13 November 2012, news emerged of Wan's ongoing negotiations to direct an adaption of the 1980s television series MacGyver. Wan posted on his Twitter account: "People are surprised?? You guys never saw shades of MacG in Jigsaw??", in response to public comments regarding the news. The screenplay is complete and the series' creator, Lee Zlotoff, is also involved.[34]

As of 2012, Disney is reported to be developing a remake of The Rocketeer,[35] and Wan has talked about directing the film.[36]

The film media announced in June 2014 that 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Wan's 2011 graphic novel Malignant Man. According to reports, Wan will develop the concept with a view to directing and producing the film. As of the time of the announcement, comic book label BOOM! Studios is slated for a production role alongside co-producers Stephen Christy, Ross Richie and Adam Yoelin.[37][38]

Video games[edit]

Wan directed a trailer for the survival horror video game Dead Space.[39]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Editor Other
2000 Stygian Yes No Yes No
2003 Saw (short film) Yes No Yes Yes
2004 Saw Yes No Yes No
2005 Saw II No No No No Executive producer
2006 Saw III No No Yes No Executive producer
2007 Dead Silence Yes No Yes No
Death Sentence Yes No No No
Saw IV No No No No Executive producer
2008 Saw V No No No No Executive producer
2009 Saw VI No No No No Executive producer
2010 Saw 3D No No No No Executive producer
Insidious Yes No No Yes
2013 The Conjuring Yes No No No
Insidious: Chapter 2 Yes No Yes No
2014 Annabelle No Yes No No
Demonic No Yes Yes No
2015 Furious 7 Yes No No No
Insidious: Chapter 3 No Yes No No
2016 The Conjuring 2 Yes No No No


Throughout his directorial career, Wan has cast certain actors repeatedly:

Insidious The
Chapter 2
Judith Anna Roberts No No Yes Yes No No No
Leigh Whannell Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Patrick Wilson No No No No Yes Yes Yes


  1. ^ "James Wan". MSN Entertainment. Microsoft. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Shannon Young (April 2005). "Shannon Young". Melbourne Independent Filmmakers. Bill Mousoulis. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Miska, Brad (21 January 2010). "'Saw’ Co-creator/Director Takes on 'The Further’!". Bloody Disgusting. BLOODY DISGUSTING LLC. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Rob Keyes (December 2011). "Lionsgate To Bring Back 'Saw’ Franchise". Screenrant. Screen Rant, LLC: TV, movie news and reviews. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Justin Channell (12 August 2012). "Lionsgate Considering A 'Saw’ Franchise Reboot". Prefix mag. Prefix. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Miska, Brad (7 August 2012). "Forget 'Twilight,’ Lionsgate Tinkering With Remaking 'Saw’ Franchise…". Bloody Disgusting. Bloody Disgusting, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Leigh Whannell (31 August 2011). "Dud Silence: The Hellish Experience Of Making A Bad Horror Film". The Word in the Stone. Leigh Whannell. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Robg; Adam Barnick & Bunni Speigelman (June 2006). "James Wan Interview". Icons of Fright. Icons of Fright.com. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Dead Silence - Interview with Ryan Kwanten: Ryan Kwanten On The Curse Of Mary Shaw" (Video upload). REELZ – TV About Movies. Reelz. 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  10. ^ TheHalloweenTown (29 October 2012). "MARY SHAW AND JAMES WAN FROM DEAD SILENCE, INSIDIOUS, SAW" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Yahoo! Movies (2012). "James Wan". Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Jack Mathews (31 August 2007). "Kevin Bacon's 'Death Sentence' is all ham and cheese". The New York Times. NYDailyNews.com. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Desson Thomson (31 August 2007). "In 'Death Sentence,' No Method to Dad's Madness". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  14. ^ DarkAngelKris (2008). "Fanpop > Movies > James Wan and... > Images > Photos > On set of Death Sentence" (Photo upload). fanpop – what are you a fan of?. Fanpop, Inc. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Edward Douglas (27 August 2007). "Exclusive: James Wan's Death Sentence". ComingSoon.net. Evolve Media Corp. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Ron Messer (4 April 2011). "James Wan & Leigh Whannell INSIDIOUS Interview; The SAW Creators Also Discuss Their Untitled Sci-Fi Project, NIGHTFALL, and Recent Horror Remakes". Collider. IndieClick Film Network. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Grady Hendrix (21 September 2010). "Original Saw Director James Wan on His Horror-Movie Comeback". Vulture. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  18. ^ EvanDickson (20 January 2012). "Vera Farmiga And Patrick Wilson In Talks To Do Some 'Conjuring’ For James Wan". Bloody Disgusting. Bloody Disgusting LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  19. ^ a b BRYANT L. GRIFFIN (9 February 2012). "New Line Cinema Assembles 'The Warren Files'". Rabid Doll. Nexus Media Group Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Miska, Brad (25 July 2012). "'Saw’ Director’s 'The Conjuring’ Gets January Release!". Bloody Disgusting. Bloody Disgusting LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  21. ^ The Deadline Team (24 July 2012). "Warner Bros Sets Release Date For 'The Conjuring’". Deadline Hollywood. PMC. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Edward Douglas (14 October 2012). "NYCC Exclusive: James Wan & Patrick Wilson on Insidious 2". Shock Till You Drop. CraveOnline Media, LLC. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  23. ^ Mark Langshaw (12 December 2012). "'Insidious' star Barbara Hershey to reprise role for sequel". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Eric Walkuski (11 December 2012). "James Wan brings Barnbara Hershey back for "Insidious 2"". Arrow in the Head ad. 2000. Joblo Media Inc. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  25. ^ Gem Seddon (12 April 2013). "James Wan To Direct Fast & Furious 7". We Got This Covered. WeGotThisCovered. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  26. ^ "CinemaCon: Fast & Furious 7 Release Date Announced!". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media, LLC, an Evolve Media, LLC company. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  27. ^ Mike Fleming Jr (10 April 2013). "James Wan Is Universal’s Choice To Helm 'The Fast And The Furious 7′". Deadline Hollywood. PMC. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  28. ^ "James Wan to direct `Fast and Furious 7`". ZeeNews.com. Zee News Limited. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  29. ^ Garry Maddox (20 October 2014). "James Wan to make Conjuring sequel: Short Cuts". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  30. ^ a b Russ Fischer (21 October 2014). "'The Conjuring’ Sequel Pushed to 2016 [Updated]". Slash Film. Slash Film. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "James Wan's 'Demonic,' starring Maria Bello, set for December release". Boston Herald. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Herner Klenthur aka Meh (2012). "SAW Creator James Wan Takes On Vampires in Night Fall". HorrorMovies.ca. Horror Movies.ca. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  33. ^ "James Wan, Leigh Whannell Observe X-Ray". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media, LLC. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  34. ^ "'MacGyver' movie in the works; James Wan looks to direct". Fox News. FOX News Network, LLC. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  35. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Claude. "Exclusive: Disney’s 'The Rocketeer' Being Reloaded." vulture.com, 21 August 2012. Retrieved: 22 August 2012.
  36. ^ "Director James Wan Talks 'The Conjuring' & Dream Comic Book Movie." on YouTube ClevverMovies, 20 October 2012. Retrieved: 23 October 2012.
  37. ^ Fleming, Jr, Mike (17 June 2014). "Fox Acquires 'Malignant Man’; 'Fast 7′s James Wan Eyeing To Direct". Deadline. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  38. ^ Ethan Anderton (17 June 2014). "Fox Picks Up Graphic Novel 'Malignant Man' for James Wan to Direct". FirstShowing.Net. First Showing® LLC. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Bloody Disgusting Staff (15 July 2008). "E3:Dead Space Trailer Made By Saw Director James Wan, And Much More". Bloody Disgusting. Bloody Disgusting LLC. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 

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