Annabelle: Creation, the sequel to 2014’s creepy doll film Anabelle, is coming out on August 11. The title is being directed by a very promising up-and-comer of the horror genre and promises to be creepy, but Annabelle: Creation will be of particular interest to horror fans for one very good reason: it is the movie that gave James wan and the other creators of the Conjuring films and their spinoffs the idea for a dedicated horror-themed cinematic universe.
Anabelle and its upcoming sequel are both offshoots of the popular horror series comprised of The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2(plus a third film which The Inquisitr reports might very well concern a werewolf). The Conjuring movies have also spawned another soon-to-be-released spin-off called The Nun. The interrelated films are slowly forming their own connected mythos.
Peter Safran, one of the men who has been involved in every one of the movies alongside Conjuring director and Annabelle: Creation producer James wan, admitted to Cinema Blend that including all the films in a shared universe was not always the plan; only once a few of the films from the franchise became massive hits with both fans and critics did it start to seem very doable. In fact, Annabelle: Creation is the first of the films the entire crew has gone into with the idea in mind that it has to maintain continuity with the other films.
“We have a board that we created that has what we hope will ultimately be our series of movies. We have it in chronological order, so we can keep track of where it all happens,” Safran said. “We’ve already messed it up, I’m sure — from the first Conjuring to Annabelle. I know we did, but we were trying to be pretty careful about it, and you’re absolutely right. At some point, you will be able to watch in order, The Nun, Annabelle 2, Annabelle 1, Conjuring, Conjuring 2, you know.”
That being said, Safran continued, Conjuring director James Wan had a plan for an entire cinematic universe in the back of his mind since the start but did not dare actually suggest it until very recently, when it actually seemed feasible.
“It was actually James Wan who suggested putting Annabelle into the opening of the original Conjuring,” Safran reflected to Bloody Disgusting. “It was not in the script when he came on board as director. That was not in there, so that was totally him and it was planted for the obvious reasons. After the first [Conjuring] came out we had so much fan interest in Annabelle, both because she was already a well-known entity, but also I think people liked what we did with her in the first movie.”
Which is quite a testament to how fascinatingly bone-chilling Annabelle’s aesthetics alone are, because the Conjuring only contained a brief shot of her. She did not move, she did not say anything, she was not even referred to. Still, the creepy Gothic doll was apparently meant to grab people’s interest and make them want to know more about her, and it succeeded in spades.
“A lot of people were really interested in her background, her origins, where she was and where she’s going – so it was pretty natural. New Line has been very supportive of doing a modestly priced spin-off that if we made a really good movie would go out on 3,000 screens, and if we didn’t, it would probably never see the light of day. Fortunately, we made a movie that tested extremely well, and that was the beginning of it all,” said Safran.
“We made the first Annabelle as a standalone movie, but with its success and certainly even before it came out, after we tested it, we knew we’d made a successful movie. You start thinking about where can you go with it, because it’s a great character. It was actually Gary Dauberman who came up with, who is our writer… it was his idea to go back and give the real origin story of Annabelle. And I think it is feathered into Annabelle 1, in a really clever and innovative manner at the end of this movie. I think people will be really satisfied with the way that they dovetail together.”
In short, no one except James Wan expected his initial seed of an idea to plant Annabelle in The Conjuring to grow into a hugely successful film and, in turn, an entire cinematic universe.
It was not until The Conjuring 2 was midway through production that Wan and company saw how well their first stab at a spinoff was doing and decided to plant more seeds. That is why, as the Inquisitr reported previously, The Conjuring 2‘s terrifying undead nun character was not even added into the movie until re-shoots rolled around.
“When it came time to do Conjuring 2, obviously, in the same manner, we wanted to plant spinoff opportunities, because you never really know what’s going to capture the audience’s imagination. But we knew there were some options in there. The Nun really was the one that everyone gravitated towards and so that was it.”
And that brings us to Annabelle: Creation, the first movie in the Conjuring/Annabelle/The Nun cinematic universe that everyone involved actually began with the knowledge it would be part of a cinematic universe. because of this, viewers can expect the movie to be chock-full of nods to the other films in the franchise and possible tie-in opportunities. The series creators will probably want to start plugging those potential tie-ins as early as possible, so fans of the films might want to pore over the already-released teaser and trailer for Annabelle: Creation(both embedded below) and look for clues of what is to come.
Annabelle: Creation will reportedly be a prequel to Annabelle, so, chronologically, it will be the earliest movie in its cinematic universe when it is released.
As far as plot is concerned, Annabelle: Creation is about “a group of orphan girls and their nun caretaker (Stephanie Sigman), who find themselves stranded after their orphanage is closed down. Fortunately, they receive some kindness courtesy of Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), who is a retired dollmaker who spends his days taking care of his catatonic wife (Miranda Otto). Unfortunately, the house is full of some seriously bad juju thanks to the death of the Mullins’ daughter 12 years previous, and before long the girls find themselves tortured by otherworldly spirits.”
And what is any cinematic universe without a catchy name by which to refer to it? If you have a suggestion for the name of this burgeoning cinematic universe, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll find the most popular one and try our best to popularize it.
[Featured image by Warner Bros.]