Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John R. Leonetti|
|Written by||Gary Dauberman|
|Music by||Joseph Bishara|
|Edited by||Tom Elkins|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$256.9 million|
Annabelle is a 2014 American supernatural horror film directed by John R. Leonetti, written by Gary Dauberman and produced by Peter Safran and James Wan. It is a prequel to 2013's The Conjuring and the second installment in The Conjuring series. The film was inspired by a story of a doll named Annabelle told by Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film stars Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, and Alfre Woodard.
Annabelle premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on September 29, 2014 and was theatrically released in the United States on October 3, 2014. The film received generally negative reviews from critics but was a box office success, grossing over $256 million against its $6.5 million production budget. A prequel, titled Annabelle: Creation, was released on August 11, 2017.
The film starts with the same opening scene from The Conjuring. In 1968, in which two young women and a young man are telling Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experiences with a doll called Annabelle which, they believe, is haunted.
In Santa Monica in 1967, Dr. John Form presents his expectant wife Mia with a rare vintage porcelain doll as a gift for their first child. That night, the couple are disturbed by the sound of their next door neighbors, the Higgins, being murdered during a home invasion. When Mia calls the police, she and John are attacked by the Higgins' killers. The police arrive and shoot the male perpetrator dead while his partner, a woman, commits suicide by slitting her own throat in the Form's nursery while holding the porcelain doll. News reports identify the assailants as the Higgins' estranged daughter Annabelle and her boyfriend, both members of a Satanic cult.
Since Annabelle was holding the doll when she died, Mia asks John to throw it away. Later there is a mysterious fire. As Mia is attempting to escape, she trips over furniture and an invisible force drags her towards the fire. She is rescued by a neighbor, Evelyn, but goes into labor and gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Leah. The family moves into a new apartment and while unpacking, Mia finds the doll they thought they had discarded. More strange activity plagues Mia and her new baby. She contacts a police detective, who informs her of Annabelle Higgins' involvement in the cult and their efforts to summon a demon by claiming a soul. Mia goes to the bookstore run by Evelyn and determines that the presence haunting her wants Leah's soul. Evelyn tells Mia that she had a daughter named Ruby who died in a car accident caused by Evelyn. She was so guilt-ridden that she attempted suicide. She claims to have heard Ruby's voice telling her it was not her time to die. The couple contacts their priest, Father Perez, who comes to their house and tells them that he will take the doll. As he attempts to enter his church with the doll, Annabelle's ghost attacks him, and the doll disappears. Father Perez warns John that it was Annabelle's spirit that caused his injuries. During another attack, the doll appears to levitate, but Mia sees that the demon is manipulating it. Mia attempts to destroy the doll but the demon tells her that she can end the doll's influence by sacrificing her soul to him. John and Evelyn break into the room to stop Mia from jumping out the window with the doll. Evelyn takes the doll from Mia and decides to sacrifice herself to atone for Ruby's death, jumping to her death. The doll disappears.
Six months later, the doll is bought from an antique shop by a mother as a gift for her daughter Debbie, one of the nursing students from the prelude to the first film.
- Annabelle Wallis as Mia Form
- Ward Horton as John Form
- Tony Amendola as Father Perez
- Alfre Woodard as Evelyn
- Kerry O'Malley as Sharon Higgins
- Brian Howe as Pete Higgins
- Eric Ladin as Detective Clarkin
- Ivar Brogger as Dr. Burgher
- Gabriel Bateman as Robert
- Geoff Wehner as Neighbor
- Shiloh Nelson as Nancy
- Tree O'Toole as Annabelle Higgins
- Keira Daniels as 7-year-old Annabelle Higgins
- Robin Pearson Rose as the Mother
- Camden Singer as Clerk
- Morganna Bridgers as Debbie
- Amy Tipton as Camilla
- Sasha Sheldon as Nurse
- Christopher Shaw as Fuller
- Joseph Bishara (uncredited) as Mother Sheba
The film is a spin-off of the 2013 horror film The Conjuring, focusing on the origins of the Annabelle doll found in that film. The film was designed to be stand alone yet at the same time catering to fans of "The Conjuring" who would already be familiar with the latter film. According to Backstage.com, the film was one of the first in a new strategy by distributors Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema "that capitalizes on the built-in fan bases for successful films, allowing for smaller budgets and production time with a bigger payout on the back end."
Principal photography began on January 27, 2014, at The Book Shop in Covina, California. On February 25, 2014, filming continued at an apartment in South Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles County, where the 55-member crew shot for several days. Director Leonetti and producer Safran told reporters that the Annabelle set was "haunted" and that they thought "supernatural phenomena" had occurred there. The film was shot in sequence so that the actors were always aware of their emotional arcs.
Annabelle was a major box office success, earning $84.3 million in North America and $172.6 in other territories for a worldwide total of $256.9 million.
In the U.S. and Canada, Annabelle is the fourteenth highest-grossing horror/supernatural film. Early critics and box office trackers projected that Annabelle could gross around $25 – $27 million in its opening weekend. However, estimates declined shortly after to a range between $20 and $22 million. Annabelle was released on October 3, 2014, in 3,185 theatres in North America. Annabelle topped the box office in its opening day earning $15.4 million (including its $2.1 million midnight previews). In its traditional three-day opening the film debuted at #2 at the box office with $37,134,255, at an average of $11,659 per theater from 3,185 theaters after a neck-and-neck competition against Gone Girl which earned $37.5 million. The two releases were separated by $378,854. Its opening weekend gross is the eleventh highest in October and the biggest for a horror genre film of 2014, surpassing The Purge: Anarchy's $28.9 million opening. Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., said about the opening box office performance, "we had a wonderful campaign for the film and a good date"; she added "being a spinoff of The Conjuring set it up really well and we just hit the right note." It is the second time that an October weekend has produced two $30 million or more debuts; the first was in 2008: High School Musical 3 ($42 million) and Saw V ($31 million). According to Rentrak, the opening weekend crowd was evenly split between female with 51% and under 25 years with 54%. The film closed down its theatrical run on December 18, 2014 and earned a total of $84,273,813 becoming the thirty-fifth highest-grossing movie of 2014 in the US.
The film was released in Russia on September 26, 2014, a week prior to its wide release and earned $2.1 million on its opening weekend, debuting at No. 3 at the Russian box office. Overseas in its opening weekend the film earned $23.6 million from nearly 3,300 screen and 39 foreign markets for a first-weekend worldwide total of $60.8 million.
High openings of Annabelle internationally were reported in France ($3.4 million), Brazil ($3 million), the UK ($3.1 million), Argentina ($1.2 million), Spain ($1.45 million) and Germany ($1.14 million). In India Annabelle debuted at #2 behind Bollywood blockbuster Bang Bang! and collected $1.3 million. It set an all-time opening record for a horror film in Peru with $1.34 million which is also Warner Bros. second biggest opening weekend of all time there overall. In Mexico, the film earned $10.9 million (including previews) on its opening weekend and broke the record for the biggest debut ever for a horror movie and the best 2D opening. Its opening weekend gross is also the third-biggest opening overall of 2014 behind Maleficent and Transformers: Age of Extinction there. In total the film took 59% of the total market share.
As of October 13, 2014, Annabelle has become the highest-grossing horror film in the Philippines, earning over ₱121.33 million. The film surpassed Insidious: Chapter 2's record (₱113 million), doing so after 12 days of release. The film has also become the highest-grossing horror movie in Lebanon after staying atop the box office for two weekends.
Annabelle received generally negative reviews from critics, the majority of which felt the film inferior to its predecessor. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 29% based on 119 reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Annabelle borrows unabashedly from better horror films, content to leave viewers with a string of cheap jolts that fail to build on the far more effective The Conjuring." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 37 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the film for its cheap production and screenplay, but was positive towards the performances of the cast and saying, "the film is ultimately so scary and formulaic that you won't forget it."
Scott Foundas of Variety gave the film a positive review, calling the film "inspired" but periodically cheap. He added "a cut-rate spinoff from James Wan's superlative haunted-house hit The Conjuring that (partly) makes up in crude shock effects, but lacks in atmosphere. Designed mainly as a starring vehicle for the eponymous, creepy-as-hell doll (who easily outclasses her human co-stars), this WB/New Line quickie is the thirst of die-hard genre fans and is by the far the best horror movie of the year".
Pete Hammond of Deadline gave the film a positive review and said that the scary doll show has left him pining for Chucky in Child's Play. He further added, "Annabelle may still draw horror fans in this Halloween month, and they will be quaking over the scares in this film."
Fellman told The Washington Post that the studio was considering a film series based on the film. A sequel is currently in the works. In October 2015, it was reported that Gary Dauberman would be returning to write the script. On March 22, 2016, Warner Bros. slated the film for release on May 19, 2017, with Lights Out director David F. Sandberg directing the film.
In June 2016, Miranda Otto and Stephanie Sigman were cast to star in the prequel. The story centers on a dollmaker and his wife (Otto) whose daughter tragically dies. Twelve years later they decide to open their home to a nun (Sigman) and several girls from a shuttered orphanage. When the dollmaker’s possessed creation Annabelle sets her sights on the children, it turns their shelter into a storm of horror.
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