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It's no secret that some horror franchises historically tend to aim for quantity over quality, but that is why The Conjuring films feel so fundamentally different and unique. The scary series masterminded by James Wan has broken new ground for what's possible in a horror franchise, and his work on The Conjuring in 2013 and The Conjuring 2 in 2016 has resulted in two of the best horror films in recent memory. However, James Wan recently opened up about his involvement in The Conjuring 3 and admitted that his work on Aquaman would likely keep him from directing the third entry in the series. Wan explained:
I just don't think it's realistic with my schedule. I'm going to be on Aquaman for a year-and-a-half. I just don't see that as a reality.
Those superhero movies are hard work, and it seems that James Wan's commitments to Aquaman are going to keep him occupied for the foreseeable future. With such a daunting task ahead of him in the DCEU, and further deadlines to hit elsewhere in The Conjuring franchise, the possibility of him returning to helm the third entry in the landmark horror series seems to have diminished considerably. Considering how much of a success Aquaman needs to become to ensure the future of the DCEU slate, his comments make sense from a business perspective.
There are two ways to interpret James Wan's recent comments to EW about his involvement in The Conjuring 3; the first is to worry. As one of the horror genre's current all-stars, Wan has become a fixture in The Conjuring universe and one of the most influential filmmakers in the genre as a whole. Without him at the helm of The Conjuring films, the entire world definitely feels a bit less stable now than it did before.
That said, a more level-headed approach to this situation is to remember that other directors have worked in The Conjuring universe before -- albeit on different properties. In particular, Lights Out's David F. Sandberg has shown great promise with his work on Annabelle: Creation, and he could easily step in for James Wan to take the reins on the franchise's flagship property if need be. Of course, Sandberg himself could potentially be busy with his upcoming work on Shazam, but the point is that other modern masters of horror could step in to replace Wan on The Conjuring 3 if it comes to that.
Beyond that, there's no indication that James Wan has any intention of stepping down from his role as a producer in The Conjuring universe, which means his special touch may still be felt on every Conjuring universe installment for the foreseeable future. Even if he is not directing, he can still have a massive influence the overarching creative direction of these films.
So for now, unless his circumstances dramatically change within the next two years, it looks like James Wan will not be back to helm the next installment in The Conjuring franchise. That said, make sure to catch David F. Sandberg's contribution to The Conjuring universe when Annabelle: Creation debuts in theaters this coming weekend on August 11.