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James Wan has an impressive history when it comes to launching and contributing to franchises, but he also notably doesn’t stick around in the director’s chair for very long with them. Going back to the start of his career, he’s brought us Saw, Insidious, and chapters of both Fast & Furious and the DC Extended Universe, but of all the direct follow-ups to those movies (a total of 11), he’s only directed two.
This is a trend that most recently continued with the developing Conjuring 3, with Michael Chaves (The Curse Of La Llorona) set to replace Wan after he directed the first two chapters in the series. This was seen as disappointing, if not unsurprising news, but now a bit of salt is being put in the wound, as producer Peter Safran has gone on the record saying that he believes the filmmaker’s time helming Conjuring Universe titles in general is probably at an end:
I don't think he will [direct another Conjuring movie]. That’s just me. My instinct is that he won’t. I think he really left everything out on the field with Conjuring 2. Just being by his side as he made that movie, I feel that he put everything that he'd learned up to that point into that film, from character development to scares to crafting sequences, just everything. I love the movie and I think that he felt like he did it, he really showed people exactly what he wanted to show them. The skills of a filmmaker telling a great story.
The subject of James Wan’s future with the Conjuring Universe was one that surfaced when I joined a small group of journalists to visit the set of the in-production Annabelle Comes Home on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California late last year. After having toured the Warren home and interviewed some of the lead actresses, we had the chance to sit down with Peter Safran and get his thoughts and opinions about the Annabelle trilogy-capper, and it was at the end of the conversation that the Wan question came up.
Peter Safran and James Wan have a built a solid working relationship, having made six films together in the last six years, so when the former expresses a particular read about the latter, it’s probably based on strong intuition. Furthermore, he definitely has a great beat on what the future holds for The Conjuring Universe, as he has produced every title released as part of the franchise so far.
On beyond the fact that James Wan seems to have a certain “rarely look back” perspective, Peter Safran brings up some really great points about The Conjuring 2. That movie is a beautiful and seriously scary piece of work, and one could definitely see why Wan may not feel compelled to return to the universe as a director going forward, instead pursuing other creative endeavors (like, perhaps, the developing Aquaman 2… which hasn’t yet nailed Wan down to direct just yet).
Of course, many in this situation would point out that it’s typically never smart to ever say “never” in this industry, as circumstances change all the time in Hollywood, and tomorrow James Wan could be struck with an idea he feels he must personally execute. Peter Safran most definitely left this possibility on the board with his answer, making particular note of Wan’s close relationship with the horror genre over the last 15 years. Said the producer,
I would be surprised if he ended up doing another one, but you never know. Guys like James, for him scares, it's in their blood. They need an outlet for it at some point, so maybe he is getting it as a producer. There is something very compelling about sitting there just wanting to scare the shit out of people.
Even if he’s not directing, James Wan’s relationship with The Conjuring Universe is as strong as ever, as he has produced every sequel and spin-off that has been made thus far, including the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.
On the subject of the third Annabelle film, it will be arriving in a theater near you very soon, as it is set up to be a nice summer scare-fest with its June 28th release date. Written and directed by Gary Dauberman (who makes his directorial debut after scripting all of the Annabelles and The Nun), the story is set over the course of one night as Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) and her babysitter (Madison Iseman) are tormented by the movie’s titular doll. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Katie Sarife co-star.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stories from my Annabelle Comes Home set visit, so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend over the next few days for more!