Thus far, the Conjuring Universe has had a pretty straight forward approach when it comes to building multiple series within its connected continuity. The Conjuring titles are the main vein, featuring the adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and those stories introduce characters who get spun-off with their own movies - the first being Annabelle, and the second being The Nun. It's a strategy that has certainly worked so far, but could the franchise get to a point where it's establishing new series that are within the universe but aren't spin-offs? It might sound logical for expansion purposes, but according to producer Peter Safran, that's not an approach that's being explored right now:
It's a good question. I don't believe that there will be anything that would be part of the Conjuring Universe that is not already Ed and Lorraine Warren connected, or connected to one of the stories that we're already telling.
With The Nun set to hit theaters nationwide this week, I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone with Peter Safran - who has produced all of the films within the Conjuring Universe - and talk about the big picture planning that is involved in building the blossoming franchise. I asked if plans were moving towards making original stories that were set within the same world, but not specifically connected to the movies we've seen, and Safran's response was simple. For now, the main focus will be the spin-off strategy that is currently being employed, as new projects develop organically from the reactions to the finished material.
This is a very different strategy for cinematic universes that we haven't really seen before - but that really makes it a fascinating development. The Marvel Cinematic Universe - the franchise that started this whole craze - was built on disperate properties being brought together, and what The Conjuring Universe offers is basically the opposite. Rather than starting wide and getting narrower, the idea with the horror movies is to start narrow and wider. And even as the franchise begins to get vaster, they can always play the tie-back game, where events at the end of individual stories dovetail with material we've already seen (a la the final sequence of Annabelle: Creation).
As more films are made and the franchise changes, the strategy for the Conjuring Universe may evolve - but for right now, it's understandable why Peter Safran and the rest of the filmmakers pulling the strings would want to stay on the established course. In four years there have been four features released - The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, and Annabelle: Creation - and none of them have failed to make north of $250 million worldwide, leading to a franchise gross of $1.2 billion earned. They also have a healthy upcoming slate, with the untitled Annabelle 3 hitting theaters next year, and Conjuring 3 planned for 2020.