In 2013, The Conjuring was a breakout hit - in both a critical and commercial sense. Much of the horror throwback's success was attributed to the directing of James Wan, who incorporated old school cinematic techniques to give audiences one of the scariest theatrical experiences in a while (read our review). Combined with his work on the Insidious series, it looked as if we had a new face for the genre.
Or so it seemed. Shortly after The Conjuring made waves, Wan claimed that he was through making scary movies, instead turning his attention to the action sequel Fast & Furious 7, looking forward to expanding his horizons and trying his hand at new types of films. Now, however, Wan has done a 180 yet again and is in fact returning to the realm that made him a household name.
According to a new report by Deadline, Wan has signed on to direct The Conjuring 2, and expects to begin rolling the cameras at some point next summer. Just yesterday, Warner Bros. delayed the sequel from its original October 2015 release date to an unspecified point in 2016. It was believed that this move was made in part to allow Wan to sit in the unclaimed director's chair, and now it seems that was the case. With production on Conjuring 2 beginning next year, Wan should have ample time to finish post-production on Fast 7 before diving back in to this franchise.
The other roadblock that was preventing movement on the horror followup was a lawsuit involving producer Tony DeRosa-Grund's Evergreen Media Group, but like the search for a helmsman, this issue appears to be solved. Now with Wan and (presumably) his Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back on board, it should be smooth sailing from here.
WB expanded the Conjuring brand this year with the spinoff Annabelle, featuring the fearsome doll shown in the Warrens' house. While that film has made decent bank at the box office ($166 million worldwide on a $6.5 million budget), its overall reception was at the other end of the spectrum when compared to The Conjuring (read our review) - something that should be remedied with the experienced Wan in tow on Conjuring 2. He's shown throughout his career that he can handle this kind of material, so horror fans should be pleased by this development.
Now that the film has a director, talk will no doubt turn to what the narrative may entail this time around. You may recall that the first movie in this blossoming franchise ended with a tease hinting at the famous Amityville case (referencing a situation the Warrens investigated in Long Island), but there's no way of knowing if that's still the plan at this juncture. In the Deadline report, Wan states that he began thinking of ideas for The Conjuring 2 while piecing Fast 7 together, so it's a realistic possibility that he'll offer moviegoers with a different story to keep things fresh and exciting. That would probably be for the best, since the Amityville incident has been told on film several times before.
Wan calling the shots on The Conjuring 2 is part of a deal he signed with New Line Cinema, where he will seek to produce movies in a variety of genres including sci-fi, horror, and comedy via his Atomic Monster company. Deadline notes that while the deal is principally for producing, the studio envisions him as one of their go-to directors, with New Line President Toby Emmerich saying that Wan will make "an important movie for New Line and WB or DC."
As for what that loaded quote might entail, that's anyone's guess for now. WB is planning on releasing more than ten DC-based adaptations between 2016 and 2020, and several of those are currently without directors. If the studio is confident in Wan's abilities, he could very well be called upon to call the shots on one of those, since he's being positioned as one of their poster boys. After all, those will rank as some of the most "important" for WB over the next handful of years.
But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves right now. The good news here is that Wan's horror batteries have been recharged following his experiences on Fast 7 and he's excited to build on the world he established with great results last year. Regardless of what Ed and Lorraine Warren seek out in their sequel, we can say that it should be handled with great care with Wan returning to a genre he knows so well.
We'll keep you updated on the progress of The Conjuring 2 as more information becomes available.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.