How The Conjuring, Annabelle and The Nun Fit Together

From The Conjuring to Annabelle, and maybe to The Nun too, this is one cinematic universe that actually works.

Every studio wants its own shared movie universe, but building the next Marvel Cinematic Universe is no simple task. It seems like the only other studio to really figure it out so far is New Line, thanks to the Conjuring franchise. What began as an unexpectedly successful haunted house movie has ballooned into a full-fledged series with multiple sequels and spinoffs and a continuity all its own.

As we gear up for the release of The Nun later this year, now is probably a good time to brush up on your Conjuring — and Annabelle! — history and learn how all these horror films tie together to form a shared universe. Spoilers of course follow for all the films to date.

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The Basics

The Conjuring Universe is a series of horror films centered around or connected to the exploits of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Technically, that makes these movies “inspired by true events,” though many would obviously dispute the authenticity of those cases. Regardless, it’s clear from the impressive critical and commercial success of the series that plenty of moviegoers are eager for more paranormal adventures.

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The main Conjuring series focuses on the Warrens as they investigate haunted houses and do their best to protect the families who live there. The original film also introduced Ed Warren’s “artifact room,” a place where the Warrens display cursed souvenirs from past cases. That room is basically the glue holding this shared universe together, as the various spinoff films like Annabelle use those souvenirs as springboards for new horror adventures. There’s no single, driving storyline linking these films, but they all intersect as they tell the story of ordinary people confronting terrifying paranormal forces.

The Movies

The Conjuring universe was born when the original The Conjuring hit theaters in 2013. That film is based on a 1971 case where the Warrens investigated a haunted farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island.

The series received its first spinoff the following year in the form of Annabelle. This prequel focused on the titular haunted doll first introduced in The Conjuring, ultimately leading directly into the events of the original film.

The Conjuring Universe continued with The Conjuring 2 in 2016. A direct sequel to the original, The Conjuring 2 jumped ahead to 1977 and adapted an infamous London haunting that’s come to be known as “The Enfield Poltergeist.” This sequel also introduced a demonic entity called Valak that’s come to play a recurring role in the series.

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The most recent entry in the Conjuring series is Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the first Annabelle set in the 1950s. Creation explores the true origin of the haunted doll (effectively retconning the events of Annabelle in the process). This film also spawned a contest where filmmakers were asked to craft a short movie in the spirit of the Conjuring Universe. The winner of that contest – Julian Terry’s “The Nurse” – was officially made part of The Conjuring canon.

Origin and Background

The Conjuring Universe isn’t the first movie franchise to be built around the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The duo are probably best known for their investigation of the Amityville haunting, a case that inspired the 1979 film The Amityville Horror and its numerous sequels and spinoffs. Decades before The Conjuring came to life, Ed Warren approached producer Tony DeRosa-Grund about turning another of their cases into a film. DeRosa-Grund wrote a screenplay based on Warren’s audio tape recordings of the Harrisville, RI, incident, but progress stalled on the project for a number of years.

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Writers Chad and Carey Haynes later refined DeRosa-Grund’s original screenplay, including making the critical change that the film be centered around the Warrens themselves rather than the Perron family, the owners of the haunted house in Rhode Island. That change seemed to give The Conjuring the spark it needed, and the project finally landed at New Line Cinema in 2009. Saw series co-creator James Wan was hired to direct, while Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were cast as Ed and Lorraine Warren, respectively.

The Conjuring wound up earning $318 million at the worldwide box office, enough to make it one of the most profitable horror films since The Blair Witch Project. Unsurprisingly, New Line immediately moved forward with sequels and spinoff projects, with Wan serving as a producer and general guiding force for the growing franchise. To date, the various films in the series have accumulated a total of over $1.2 billion at the global box office, with several new movies in various stages of development.

What’s Next

Currently, New Line is developing at least three new additions to the Conjuring Universe.

Valak haunts Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2.

Valak haunts Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2.

The first of these is The Nun, a prequel set at a Romanian monastery in 1952. The demon Valak will serve as the main antagonist of the film, building on its original appearance in The Conjuring 2 as a twisted ghost taking the appearance of a nun. Corin Hardy is directing, with Taissa Farmiga (sister of Vera) starring as Sister Irene and Demián Bichir as Father Burke.

New Line is also moving forward with The Crooked Man, a spinoff featuring another supernatural entity introduced in The Conjuring 2. It’s unknown exactly where this film will fall in the Conjuring timeline, but Mike Van Waes is penning a screenplay based on a story treatment by Wan, and the tone is reportedly more fairy tale-like than other films in the franchise.

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Finally, an actual The Conjuring 3 is also in the works. Little is known about this sequel, either, though Wan has speculated that the setting might shift to the 1980s and deal with werewolves. The Conjuring 2 co-writer David Leslie Johnson is currently penning the screenplay. Unfortunately, Wan himself likely won’t be back to direct, given his commitment to Aquaman.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.

SOURCE: IGN.com

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