In the last six years, The Conjuring Universe has become one of the most successful active franchises in Hollywood. It all started when James Wan’s The Conjuring turned out to be a massively huge hit in the summer of 2013, and since then the brand has expanded to include multiple spin-off series, which have actually mostly performed as well or better than the core titles.
As the franchise has continued, it’s expanded in interesting ways and gone to some exciting new places – and it’s in recognition of this that Gary Dauberman’s upcoming Annabelle Comes Home holds a special place the brand’s direction. It turns out the title has a semi-double meaning, as in addition to the movie featuring a plot that sees the titular doll come to live in the Warren house, it’s also seen by the filmmakers as a homecoming of sorts for the entire Conjuring Universe.
This was a sentiment shared by producer Peter Safran during an interview late last year when I had the chance to visit the set of what was then only called Annabelle 3:
The idea bringing it back to the Warren family was something that we've been toying with for a while. We had the Perrons, we had the Hodgsons, we took it all away to Romania – a totally different vibe and feel for The Nun. And we just liked the idea of bringing it closer to home, back to ordinary people and extraordinary circumstances, which was kind of the touchstone for it. And it just really made sense.
To fill in the gaps for the uninitiated, The Conjuring started the franchise with a story that actually spent a fair amount of time in the Warren home, in addition to following an investigation of the relatively-local Perron household. But the movies have slowly moved away from that ever since. Annabelle was really only a slight crawl away as a prequel story with a direct link-up featured at the end, but then The Conjuring 2 took Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine Warren to England for the infamous Enfield Poltergeist case with the Hodgson clan. Annabelle: Creation then took audiences back nearly 20 years before the events of The Conjuring; and then The Nun doubled down on both elements of setting by not only going further back in time (by three years), but also by featuring events primarily set in the Vatican and Romania.
It’s been six years since audiences have seen any legitimately spooky action inside of the Warren’s house, but Annabelle Comes Home will break that streak when it’s released this summer. Set over the course of one night, the story centers on Ed and Lorraine’s daughter, Judy (McKenna Grace), as she spends the night with a babysitter (Madison Iseman) the night Annabelle is brought into household’s notorious artifact museum. Unfortunately for them, it’s evil winds up having a very strong influence over the other objects in the room, unleashing all kinds of terrors.
Further discussing the approach of bringing the action back to the Warrens’, Peter Safran explained that there has long been a creative curiosity when it comes to the aforementioned artifact museum, and Annabelle Comes Home will finally be the movie that sees the potential there explored. Plus, he added, it’s an opportunity to directly follow-up on the very first case that audiences were introduced to in the first Conjuring. Said the producer,
We always loved the idea of the artifact room being the potential source of more stories. The idea of actually setting a film around that was something, again, that we had in our mind for a while, and Gary [Dauberman] and James [Wan], and myself just thought this was the opportunity – that the third Annabelle movie is the opportunity to really raise the stakes. And that was it. Also the opening scene of The Conjuring is so iconic when it opens up on the half face of Annabelle, we just always liked the idea of, what happened after they left there? We see them taking the doll, what happens? It was actually something other people had asked us in the past as well. We just thought we will explore that story.
There will still be plenty more opportunities for The Conjuring Universe to explore new cities, countries, and time periods, as there are multiple projects actively in development, but Annabelle Comes Home is specifically being made as the film that brings us full circle.
The directorial debut of Gary Dauberman – who previously wrote the scripts for Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and The Nun – Annabelle Comes Home is scheduled to freak out audiences this summer with its June 28th release. And be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend, as I have plenty more stories coming your way in the coming days from my time visiting the set.