When James Wan's horror flick The Conjuring surprised many by becoming a massive box office hit, it soon became clear that a franchise had been born. And although the sequel, The Conjuring 2, was released recently to great success, it was not the first follow-up in the franchise. That honor goes to the 2014 prequel spin-off Annabelle, which centered on the initial possession of the creepy haunted doll that played a minor role in the plot of the first Conjuring.
While critically not well received, Annabelle scared up massive profits for Warner Bros., earning over $250 million worldwide on a budget of only $6.5 million. Naturally, a sequel to Annabelle was greenlit last year, with writer Gary Dauberman returning to pen the script. Not returning is Annabelle director John R. Leonetti, who has been replaced by David F. Sandberg, director of both the upcoming Wan production Lights Out and the viral short film it was based on. Up until now, little else concerning Annabelle 2 has been known, but today brings news of two major cast additions and some initial plot details for the sequel.
First up on the casting docket is Miranda Otto, most recently of Showtime drama Homeland, and soon to play a regular role on FOX's 24: Legacy when it premieres midseason. Acting steadily since the 80s, Otto is perhaps best known for playing Eowyn in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and also appeared in Steven Spielberg's 2005 remake of War of the Worlds. Newer to the industry is fellow addition to the Annabelle 2 cast Stephanie Sigman, who began acting in her native Mexico before transitioning over to work in the U.S. Sigman is a regular on the Netflix drama Narcos and appeared in last year's James Bond installment Spectre.
According to today's reports, the story of Annabelle 2 concerns a dollmaker and his wife, who lost their daughter some 20 years prior to the start of the film. The couple agrees to take in a nun and several children who've found themselves homeless after an orphanage is shut down, only to see their guests targeted by Annabelle, a creation of the aforementioned dollmaker. Otto is set to play the dollmaker's reclusive, disfigured wife, while Sigman will play Sister Charlotte, the nun looking after the displaced children.
One aspect yet to be clarified is where exactly Annabelle 2 will fit into the continuity of the franchise. After all, Annabelle (the film) established that the doll became possessed -- and got its name -- following the suicide of a demon-summoning cult member named Annabelle Higgins. These events took place in 1969. If Annabelle (the doll) is still residing at the home of its creator when the sequel begins, then the script must clearly be set prior to the first film, essentially making Annabelle 2 a prequel to a prequel.
Further complicating matters, is the fact that if Annabelle wasn't possessed until 1969, how would she be able to attack people staying at the home of her maker? Is she this time possessed by the dollmaker's deceased daughter, who is perhaps conversations eniently also named Annabelle? On the casting and directing front, Warner Bros. seems to be getting Annabelle 2 off to a good start. Here's hoping the studio sees fit to clear up questions regarding the currently murky plot of the sequel soon.
Annabelle 2 haunts theaters on May 19, 2017.