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We’ve seen many film franchises try to launch cinematic universes in the last decade, but few have been as immensely successful as what has been built with The Conjuring Universe. The ball started rolling in 2013 with the massively successful James Wan film that gave the brand its name, and while there weren’t really initial ambitions to create something bigger, everything changed when John Leonetti’s Annabelle turned into a $250 million global hit one year later. Since then the spooky world has grown and grown, and by the end of 2019 it will have seven titles in canon.
With all that growth can come a little confusion, however, as each new release is set in a different time period and has specific connections to previous stories. It’s in aim of eliminating that confusion that we’ve built this feature. In hopes of helping fans fully grasp the breadth of The Conjuring Universe, we’ve put together this timeline to both linearly illustrate the events we’ve seen so far, and show how the titles link to one another. So without further ado, let’s start at the start by taking a step back in time to the 1950s…
While there are scenes in other Conjuring Universe titles that take place before it, Corin Hardy’s The Nun is featured first on the timeline because the primary events in the story take place before all of the other narratives in the franchise – specifically taking us back to the year 1952. It was at this time that Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and Sister Irene (Tessa Farmiga) were sent by the Vatican to Romania in hopes of uncovering the details behind the mysterious suicide of a nun. Unfortunately for them, it led to a direct confrontation with the demon known as Valek (Bonnie Aarons), and while they were ultimately able to escape with their lives, the events also saw the horrifically evil entity let loose on the world.
Being set so early on the timeline and taking place in Eastern Europe, The Nun isn’t as directly tied into the events of The Conjuring Universe as many of the other movies, but it does feature some key details. Not only does it show us the origins of the main villain from The Conjuring 2, but it also provides an interesting link to one of the Warrens’ most dangerous cases, as seen in The Conjuring.
As the name of the film implies, David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation is designed as an origin story for its titular character, literally showing how the seriously creepy porcelain toy came into existence. Technically it all kicks off in 1943, as that was when doll maker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) first designed Annabelle for his daughter (Samara Lee), but the majority of the story takes place in 1955 – which is when Samuel and his wife Esther (Miranda Otto) agreed to take in the children from a shuttered orphanage, as well as their caretaker Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman). It was at this time that the doll not only started to get stronger, but also took its first victims.
This is obviously a table-setter for all of Annabelle’s adventures in The Conjuring Universe so far, showing how she first became possessed and the initial efforts that were taken to contain her power. And while those efforts were successful for a while, it took about 12 years for her special brand of chaos to be one again unleashed upon the world…
Despite Annabelle’s very small role in The Conjuring, audiences quickly fell in love with her, and Warner Bros. acted quickly to take advantage of that affection. But with the movie having already established how she ended up in the possession of Ed and Loraine Warren, the first Annabelle spin-off had to find a different story to tell, which is why it wound up being set in 1967. Inspired by the cult murders of the era – specifically the actions of the Manson family – it tells a rather self-contained tale about the terrors that the titular doll can induce, specifically torturing a couple of new parents (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton) who wind up with her in their possession.
Despite being the first of its own series, John Leonetti’s Annabelle is arguably best seen as a middle chapter sandwiched between Annabelle: Creation and Annabelle Comes Home. Its connections to the rest of the Conjuring Universe are minimal, but it does fill a key gap in the timeline between Annabelle’s “birth” and her time in the hands of the Warrens.
Annabelle Comes Home
Although Gary Dauberman’s Annabelle Comes Home hasn’t actually been released or even screened just yet, we know a lot about the movie’s setting simply because the central premise is very much tied into where it takes place on The Conjuring Universe timeline. Specifically, the story is told on the night that Ed and Loraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) bring the titular doll back to their house so that it can be contained in their occult museum. With what we already know about the Warrens relationship with Annabelle, this pins it right before the main events of The Conjuring, hence its placement here in this feature.
Taking things a step further, it’s even easier to specifically place Annabelle Comes Home because it’s apparently a story that doesn’t exactly stretch out for weeks/months on end. Instead, the action will be taking place over the course of one night, as young Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace), her babysitter (Madison Iseman), and her babysitter’s friend (Katie Sarife) try and survive the terror that Annabelle is able to unleash while being surrounded by the Warrens’ huge collection of terrifying objects.
Finally we get to the film that started it all – and it’s a pretty easy one to explain timeline-wise. James Wan’s The Conjuring is a straight-forward horror flick when it comes to narrative, as while there are references to events in the past, as well as the aforementioned introduction of Annabelle, most of the movie takes place within a few weeks of the year 1971.
As for its relationship with the rest of The Conjuring Universe, there aren’t many connections to mention that haven’t already been established – though it is worth recognizing that Ed and Loraine Warren aren’t exactly amateurs at the start of this story. As a result, it’s entirely possible that future chapters of this franchise could be set both before and after the events in this movie – it all just depends on the stories that the filmmakers are interested in telling.
The Curse Of La Llorona
Because of the period storytelling that The Conjuring Universe employs, most of the titles have been very specific in establishing exactly when it is that each of the stories take place (hence why we’ve been able to tag specific years for each movie). Michael Chaves’ The Curse Of La Llorona is a bit different, though. While we know that it definitely takes place after the events of Annabelle, specifically because of the involvement of Father Perez (Tony Amendola), the upcoming movie recently revealed it's setting to be 1973, which puts it smack dab in the middle of the Conjuring franchise.
It almost makes sense that there would be a bit of vagueness surrounding The Curse Of La Llorona, as it’s also The Conjuring Universe movie with the fewest connections to the rest of the franchise. It’s not a spin-off from any specific title, and with the exception of the presence of Father Perez is doesn’t actually have any other Easter eggs. If you’re watching these films chronologically, you can really watch this one any time after Annabelle and not get confused by how it fits into the grand scheme of things.
The Conjuring 2
Because of the inspiration taken from the lives of Ed and Loraine Warren, it may be a minute before we get to see a contemporary movie set in The Conjuring Universe, so right now the last title on the franchise timeline is James Wan’s The Conjuring 2. The film opens in 1976, specifically with the paranormal investigating duo looking into the notorious events in Amityville, New York, but the majority of the narrative takes them to 1977 England where they look into the case of the Enfield Poltergeist.
Much like its direct predecessor, elements of The Conjuring 2 have been expanded through spin-offs, most notably The Nun, and it makes for an interesting viewing experience knowing the background material provided by the other titles. So if you’re planning on doing a chronological run through The Conjuring Universe the next time you decide to revisit the franchise, you may find that certain details come across a bit differently by the time you get to the end of the timeline.
This covers everything that we’ve seen from The Conjuring Universe so far, but there is still a bright future ahead for the demon-filled series, with announced projects like The Conjuring 3, The Nun 2, and The Crooked Man. You can be sure that we here on CinemaBlend will be following them all very closely, so be sure to stay tuned for all the latest details.