Warner Bros. has revealed that the 2019 Conjuring cinematic universe film is the as-yet untitled Annabelle 3. The film is being directed by Gary Dauberman, who has become WB's go-to screenwriter for horror movie franchises after his efforts on the previous two Annabelle films and last year's box office sensation IT. He has also written this year's Conjuring series installment The Nun - a spinoff based around demonic nun Valak from The Conjuring 2 - and is handling the script for 2019's IT: Chapter 2.
The Annabelle films are themselves spinoffs based around the demonically possessed Annabelle doll from James Wan's first Conjuring movie. Whereas the first Annabelle movie was a profitable venture (with a $257 million worldwide box office take on a $6.5 million budget) that was largely dismissed by critics, its followup Annabelle: Creation was far better received critically and grossed even more at the box office ($307 million worldwide on a $15 million budget). With that kind of huge profit vs. cost ratio, it was probably inevitable that WB would go back to the Annabelle well at some point.
WB scheduled an untitled Conjuring movie for release in 2019 last week and THR is now confirming that the date will, in fact, go to the third Annabelle movie. Dauberman is once again writing the film in addition to directing, though details beyond that are being kept under lock and key for now. That includes information on where exactly Annabelle 3 will fall in the somewhat confusing timeline of the Annabelle films.
Fans of the Conjuring franchise may recall that the first Annabelle movie was a prequel to Wan's original installment and directly set up that movie's prologue (where the eponymous doll causes problems for some unsuspecting nursing students). Annabelle: Creation went even further back in time to reveal the story of the dollmaker who designed the Annabelle doll. The latter film fed right into the events of the original Annabelle movie with its final scene, showing Annabelle's opening sequence from a different point of view.
The events of Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation take place several years apart, so it would only make sense for Annabelle 3 to explore that as-yet undocumented portion of the Conjuring movie timeline. It's possible the film will go in a different direction, but it would only risk mucking up the larger franchise's timeline in doing so. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Dauberman can successfully make the transition from writing horror movies to directing them with the third chapter in the Annabelle series.
If there's a downside to this news, it's that a third trip to the Annabelle well is being green-lit ahead of the other two Conjuring films in active development, The Conjuring 3 and The Crooked Man. The latter in particular sounds intriguing and has been described by Wan as a dark fairy tale, which is a far cry from the other spinoffs thus far. Meanwhile, The Conjuring 3 appeared to be on-track for a 2019 release last year, but it's possible WB is keeping that film on the back-burner until Wan becomes available to direct it.
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