The Conjuring (film series)

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The Conjuring
The Conjuring.jpg
Title card of the first film
Created by
Original work The Conjuring (2013)
Films and television
Film(s)
Short film(s) The Nurse (2017)
Audio
Soundtrack(s)

The Conjuring is an American horror film series mainly produced by New Line Cinema and The Safran Company, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The films present a dramatized take on the real-life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent yet controversial cases of haunting. The main series follows their attempts to assist people who find themselves possessed by demonic spirits, while the spin-off films focus on the origins of some of the entities the Warrens have come across.

The franchise currently consists of two films in the main series, The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016), both directed by James Wan, co-produced by Peter Safran and Rob Cowan, and co-written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes. The installments revolve around two of the many famous paranormal cases the Warrens have been a part of, with the first film depicting the case of the Perron family, who are experiencing disturbing events in their newly acquired house in Rhode Island, and the second entry focusing on the controversial case of the Enfield Poltergeist while briefly referencing the events that inspired The Amityville Horror. A third film in the main series is currently in development.[1]

The franchise also includes Annabelle (2014), a prequel directed by The Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti and produced by Safran and Wan, which developed the origins of the doll of the same name before the Warrens came into contact with it at the start of the first film. An Annabelle prequel, Annabelle: Creation (2017), directed by David F. Sandberg, was also produced. A spin-off film, The Nun, is currently in post-production, based on a character introduced in The Conjuring 2. A further spin-off film, The Crooked Man, also based on a character introduced in The Conjuring 2,[2] is in development.

The two Conjuring films were met with generally positive reviews by both critics and horror fans, earning praise for Wan's directing and main cast performances, particularly Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga's on-screen chemistry as Ed and Lorraine. Critics also acknowledged the impact the films have had on popular culture as well as in the production of modern horror films. The first entry in the Annabelle film series received more mixed to negative reviews, being considered by many, mainly fans of the first picture, as an inferior film to its forerunner. Annabelle: Creation was met with generally positive reviews. The two main films and its two spin-offs have proven themselves to be successful at the box office, having combined earnings of over $1.2 billion worldwide, against a combined budget of $81.5 million,[3] making it the third highest-grossing horror franchise in history,[4][5] and one of the most critically acclaimed.

The franchise's success and interlinked films has led the media to make comparisons with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with film critic Scott Mendelson of Forbes calling the franchise the "first successful post-Marvel cinematic universe".[6][7][8][9] The Conjuring Universe is the official name used by Warner Bros. for the series.[10]

Development[edit]

Development began over 20 years prior to the first film's debut, when Ed Warren played a tape of Lorraine's original interview with Carolyn Perron for producer Tony DeRosa-Grund.[11] DeRosa-Grund made a recording of Warren playing back the tape and of their subsequent discussion. At the end of the tape, Warren said to DeRosa-Grund, "If we can't make this into a film I don't know what we can." DeRosa-Grund then described his vision of the film for Ed.[12]

DeRosa-Grund wrote the original treatment and titled the project The Conjuring.[13] For nearly 14 years, he tried to get the film made without any success. He originally landed a deal to make the film at Gold Circle Films, the production company behind The Haunting in Connecticut, but a contract could not be finalized and the deal was dropped.[14]

DeRosa-Grund allied with producer Peter Safran, and sibling writers Chad and Carey W. Hayes were brought on board to refine the script.[13] Using DeRosa-Grund's treatment and the Ed Warren tape, the Hayes brothers changed the story's point of view from the Perron family to that of the Warrens. The brothers interviewed Lorraine Warren many times over the phone to clarify details.[15] By mid-2009, the property became the subject of a six-studio bidding war that landed the film at Summit Entertainment.[16] However, DeRosa-Grund and Summit could not conclude the transaction and the film went into turnaround. DeRosa-Grund reconnected with New Line Cinema, who had lost in the original bidding war, and the studio ultimately picked up the film. On November 11, 2009, a deal was made between New Line and DeRosa-Grund's Evergreen Media Group.[17]

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s) Composer Cinematographer
The Conjuring series
The Conjuring July 15, 2013 (2013-07-15) James Wan Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes Tony DeRosa-Grund, Peter Safran and Rob Cowan Joseph Bishara John R. Leonetti
The Conjuring 2 June 10, 2016 (2016-06-10) Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes & James Wan and David Leslie Johnson Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes & James Wan Peter Safran, Rob Cowan and James Wan Don Burgess
The Conjuring 3 TBA TBA David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick Peter Safran and James Wan TBA TBA
Annabelle series
Annabelle October 3, 2014 (2014-10-03) John R. Leonetti Gary Dauberman Peter Safran and James Wan Joseph Bishara James Kniest
Annabelle: Creation August 11, 2017 (2017-08-11) David F. Sandberg Benjamin Wallfisch Maxime Alexandre
Untitled film July 3, 2019 (2019-07-03) Gary Dauberman TBA TBA
Other films
The Nun September 7, 2018 (2018-09-07) Corin Hardy Gary Dauberman James Wan & Gary Dauberman Peter Safran and James Wan Abel Korzeniowski Maxime Alexandre
The Crooked Man TBA TBA Mike Van Waes James Wan TBA TBA
Short film(s)
The Nurse August 16, 2017 (2017-08-16) Julian Terry Alexander Anderson Alexander Anderson and Julian Terry Alex Winkler Will Weprin

The Conjuring series[edit]

The Conjuring (2013)[edit]

In January 2012, Bloody Disgusting confirmed Wan as the director of a film entitled The Warren Files, later retitled The Conjuring, centering on the real life exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple who investigated paranormal events.[18] In his second collaboration with Wan, Patrick Wilson starred alongside Vera Farmiga in the main roles of Ed and Lorraine.[19] Production commenced in Wilmington, North Carolina in February 2012, and scenes were shot in chronological order.[19] The film focused on the Warrens' 1971 case in which they investigated a witch's curse at a farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The Conjuring was released on July 19, 2013, to positive reviews and critical success, earning $318 million worldwide over a budget of $20 million, and becoming one of the most profitable horror films in history.

The Conjuring 2 (2016)[edit]

In June 2013, it was reported that New Line Cinema was already developing a sequel,[20] with both Farmiga and Wilson signed on to reprise their roles.[21] On October 21, it was announced that Wan would return to direct the sequel and would make his first contribution as a writer in the franchise.[22] Principal photography began in September 2015 in Los Angeles, and concluded in December 2015 in London.[23] The film focused on the Enfield Poltergeist case in London in 1977,[24] while briefly referencing the events that inspired The Amityville Horror. It was released on June 10, 2016,[25] to positive reviews from both critics and audiences; some agreed that the film was vastly superior to other horror sequels, while others debated whether the film had surpassed its predecessor in quality. Proving to be similarly successful to the first entry in the series, the film became another profitable addition to the franchise, having earned $320.3 million worldwide from a budget of $40 million, and becoming the second highest-grossing horror film of all time, following The Exorcist.

The Conjuring 3[edit]

Regarding a potential third installment in The Conjuring series, Wan stated, "There could be many more [Conjuring] movies because the Warrens have so many stories." Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes have also expressed interest in working on a story for another sequel.[26] However, Wan stated that he may be unable to direct the film due to his commitments to other projects.[27] He told Collider, "Assuming we are lucky enough to have a third chapter, there are other filmmakers that I would love to sort of continue on the Conjuring world, if we are lucky enough."[28] Wan has also stated that, if a third film was to be made, it would ideally take place in the 1980s.[29] Wan later stated that the sequel could include lycanthropy, saying, "Maybe we can go and do it like a classic American Werewolf in London style. That would be awesome! The Warrens set against the backdrop of The Hound of Baskerville {sic}. That would be awesome."[30] In May 2017, Safran commented on the unlikelihood that a third installment would be a haunted house film.[31] In June 2017, it was announced a third installment was in development, with The Conjuring 2 co-writer David Leslie Johnson hired to write the screenplay.[1] In August 2017, Wan told Entertainment Weekly that the filmmakers have "been working hard on The Conjuring 3", and that "we're in the midst of working on the script, and still hashing [it] out. We want to make sure that the script is in a really good place. With how much people have loved the first two [Conjuring films], I don't want to rush in to the third one if possible".[32]

Annabelle series[edit]

Annabelle (2014)[edit]

A spin-off film, focusing on the origins of the Annabelle doll that was introduced in The Conjuring, was shortly announced after the release of its forerunner, mainly due to the film's worldwide box office success, and positive reception towards the character. Production began in January 2014 in Los Angeles. The plot focused on John and Mia Form, a married couple expecting a child, whose vintage doll, Annabelle, gets possessed by a vengeful spirit after a cult group breaks into their home and is murdered. The film was directed by The Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti and produced by Safran and Wan, with Gary Dauberman behind the script.[33] The film was released worldwide on October 3, 2014, to major commercial success, becoming the 14th most profitable horror film in North America, despite receiving mixed to negative reviews from critics and fans alike.[34] Many critics found Annabelle to be an inferior film compared to The Conjuring.[35]

Annabelle: Creation (2017)[edit]

In October 2015, it was confirmed that an Annabelle sequel was in development; it was later revealed that the film would be a prequel rather than a sequel.[36] Filming began in June 2016 in Los Angeles.[37] The plot of the film centers on a dollmaker and his wife, whose daughter tragically died twelve years earlier, as they decide to open their home to a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage; the dollmaker's possessed creation Annabelle sets her sights on the children and turns their shelter into a storm of horror.[38] Lights Out director David F. Sandberg replaced Leonetti as director, with Dauberman returning to write the script and Safran and Wan returning to produce.[39] The film was released worldwide on August 11, 2017, to critical and commercial success. Most critics found Annabelle: Creation to be a vast improvement over its predecessor.[40]

Untitled Annabelle film (2019)[edit]

In April 2018, Warner Bros. announced July 3, 2019, as the release date for an as-yet untitled new film in The Conjuring franchise.[41] Later that month, it was announced that the film will be a third Annabelle film, with Gary Dauberman signed on to write and direct the film in his directorial debut. James Wan and Peter Safran will co-produce the project.[42] During the 2018 SDCC, Wan and Safran revelead the film would be set after the events of Annabelle and would focus on the doll haunting the Warrens' daughter, Judy.[citation needed]

Other films[edit]

The Nun (2018)[edit]

On June 15, 2016, it was reported that a spin-off film titled The Nun, featuring the "Demon Nun" character Valak from The Conjuring 2, was in development with The Conjuring 2 co-scribe David Leslie Johnson writing the script, and Wan and Safran set to produce the project.[43] In February 2017, it was announced that Corin Hardy had signed on to direct. Gary Dauberman was also reported to have written a new screenplay based off a story treatment from James Wan and Dauberman.[44] In April 2017, it was revealed Demián Bichir had joined the cast in the lead role.[45] That same month, Taissa Farmiga joined the cast of the film, in the titular role.[46] Bonnie Aarons will reprise her role in the film.[47] The plot of the film follows a nun, a priest and a novitiate as they investigate an unholy secret and confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. Filming began in May 2017 in Bucharest, Romania.[48] On August 12, 2017, Wan discussed a possibility for a Nun sequel and what its storyline may be: "I do know where potentially, if The Nun works out, where The Nun 2 could lead to and how that ties back to Lorraine's story that we've set up with the first two Conjurings and make it all come full circle."[49] The film is set to release on September 7, 2018.[50]

The Crooked Man (TBA)[edit]

On May 31, 2017, Safran said there was a possibility of a Crooked Man film.[51] On June 14, 2017, it was reported that a spin-off film titled The Crooked Man, featuring the character of the same name from The Conjuring 2, was in development with Mike Van Waes writing the script based on a story treatment by James Wan. Wan and Safran are set to produce the project. In August 2017, Wan told Entertainment Weekly that The Crooked Man is still at the beginning of the development process, stating that the film is in "early stages" and that the intent with the potential film is to move into the "dark fairytale" subgenre of horror films.[52]

Short films[edit]

The Nurse (2017)[edit]

On July 7, 2017, Warner Bros., in conjunction with James Wan, announced the "My Annabelle Creation" competition as promotion for the then-upcoming film Annabelle: Creation. Participants of the competition were to shoot a short film which would "feel like (it) could exist within the established Conjuring world",[53] with the winning films' directors having their films made canonical to the chronology of the series and winning a trip to Los Angeles to meet with David F. Sandberg, the director of Annabelle: Creation.[10] The entry deadline was July 27, 2017.[53] On August 17, 2017, the United States-based winner of the competition was announced to be Julian Terry for his short film The Nurse. Just under 2 minutes in length and filmed over four days, the film revolves around a bandaged and temporarily blind girl named Emily (Aria Walters) who attempts to elude the eponymous Demon Nurse (Hannah Palazzi). Separate competition winners will be selected from Mexico and the United Kingdom.[53]

Recurring cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)
This section shows the main characters that appear in the film franchise.

  • An empty, dark-grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's official presence has not yet been confirmed.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage.
  • A C indicates a cameo role.
  • An O indicates a role as an older version of the character.
  • A V indicates a voice-only role.
  • A Y indicates a role as a younger version of the character.
Characters The Conjuring series Annabelle series Other films
The Conjuring
(2013)
The Conjuring 2
(2016)
Annabelle
(2014)
Annabelle:
Creation

(2017)
The Nun
(2018)
The Crooked Man
(TBA)
Edward "Ed" Warren Patrick Wilson Patrick WilsonA
Lorraine Warren Vera Farmiga
Annabelle Demon Appeared Joseph Bishara
Janice
Annabelle Higgins
Tree O'Toole
Keira DanielsY
Samara Lee
Tree O'TooleO
Drew Thomas Shannon Kook
Judy Warren Sterling Jerins
Father Gordon Steve Coulter
Bathsheba Joseph Bishara[54]
Valak Joseph Bishera
Robin Atkin DownesV
Demon Nun Bonnie Aarons Bonnie AaronsC Bonnie Aarons
Crooked Man Javier Botet TBA
Debbie Morganna Bridgers Morganna Bridgers
Camilla Amy Tipton Amy Tipton
Rick Zach Pappas Zach Pappas
Mia Form Annabelle Wallis Annabelle WallisA
John Form Ward Horton Ward HortonA
Pete Higgins Brian Howe
Sharon Higgins Kerry O'Malley

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America
All time
worldwide
The Conjuring July 19, 2013 $137,400,141 $182,094,497 $319,494,638 #397 #397 $20 million [55][56]
Annabelle October 3, 2014 $84,273,813 $172,773,848 $257,047,661 #852 #531 $6.5 million [55][57]
The Conjuring 2 June 10, 2016 $102,470,008 $217,922,810 $320,392,818 #654 #394 $40 million [55][58]
Annabelle: Creation August 11, 2017 $102,092,201 $204,423,683 $306,515,884 #660 #422 $15 million [55][59]
Total $426,236,163 $777,214,838 $1,203,451,001 $81.5 million [55]

The franchise has been notable for its profit, with The Conjuring and its follow-up having earned a combined profit of $260 million, according to Deadline,[60][61] while Annabelle managed to make 40 times its $6.5 million budget.[57] All expenses put together, the franchise has made thus far approximately $500 million in box office profit. Film critic and box office pundit Scott Mendelson of Forbes has called the franchise the "first successful post-Marvel cinematic universe."[6]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The Conjuring 86% (208 reviews)[62] 68 (35 reviews)[63] A-[64]
Annabelle 29% (122 reviews)[65] 37 (27 reviews)[66] B[64]
The Conjuring 2 79% (227 reviews)[67] 65 (38 reviews)[68] A-[64]
Annabelle: Creation 70% (158 reviews)[69] 62 (29 reviews)[70] B[64]
Average 66% 58 B+

Lawsuits[edit]

Norma Sutcliffe and Gerald Helfrich, the current owners of the house on which The Conjuring was based, have sued Wan, Warner Bros. and other producers, on the grounds that their property was being constantly vandalized as a consequence of the film. Entertainment Weekly obtained documents in which the owners affirm various invasions and ratify that they have found numerous objects affiliated with satanic cults. The lawsuit also reveals that the current owners bought the house in 1987 and lived "in peace" until 2013. Both owners had been seeking for unspecified damages. When questioned, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. declined to comment on the issue.[71]

Gerald Brittle, author of a book about the Warrens called The Demonologist, filed a $900 million lawsuit on March 29, 2017, against Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, James Wan and others, claiming that he had the exclusive rights to the Warrens' story and that it had been illegally stolen by the studios and producers.[72] The case was scheduled to go to trial on April 16, 2018, with a Warner Bros. spokesperson commenting, "We're pleased the Court significantly narrowed the case and look forward to addressing the remaining claims at summary judgment. Mr. Brittle's claims are not only without merit, but contradict Mr. Brittle's prior admissions in other failed lawsuits concerning The Conjuring movies".[73] However, on December 13, 2017, Warner Bros. settled the lawsuit, revealing that Tony DeRosa-Grund, the producer of the original film, was the "mastermind" behind the lawsuit, without Brittle ever having been involved.[74] A spokesperson commented, "New Line has contended all along that DeRosa-Grund was the mastermind behind the lawsuit, was controlling and directing the lawsuit, and had attempted to enter into secret side deals with Brittle." Brittle himself stated, "Mr. DeRosa-Grund has been controlling this litigation from the start. [...] Based on a review of text messages between Mr. DeRosa-Grund and my attorney, I understand that he even threatened my attorneys that if they sent information from me without him seeing it first they would be fired." Brittle went into further detail in the settlement. This follows repeated failed lawsuits by DeRosa-Grund to Warner Bros. for claims of owed millions of dollars from the franchise, to the point where he was getting into trouble with the courts and reached a settlement with Warner Bros. to never sue them again for anything related to the franchise.[75][76][77]

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