Who would have guessed back in 2013, when “The Conjuring” first came out in theaters, that the horror film would kick off an entire cinematic universe? Since then, creator James Wan has expanded the original movie into three franchises, one spin-off film, and more projects on the way. The “Conjuring” franchises have since become even more lucrative than Wan’s “Saw” series and the second most profitable horror film series ever, behind only the “Godzilla” franchise.
As Hollywood logic goes, if you have a cash cow, you need to milk it for all its worth. So, for the first time in five years, Ed and Lorraine Warren are back on screen in “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.” However, this time, the paranormal investigators are moving beyond haunted houses to take on an entirely different kind of possession.
Like the last two “Conjuring” films, “Devil” takes its premise from the real-life Warrens’ actual case files. This movie tackles the infamous 1981 Connecticut murder trial of Arne Johnson. The Warrens become involved after the defense insisted demonic possession made Johnson innocent of the crime.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return to reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, Charlene Amoia, and Sterlin Jerins also star.
While Wan isn’t behind the camera for “Devil,” he still co-wrote the story and served as one of the film’s producers. Other players in the “Conjuring” universe are part of the film, too. Michael Chavez directs, after being the director for 2019’s “The Case Of La Llorona.” David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick returns as the screenwriter after writing “The Conjuring 2.” Joseph Bishara also returns to provide music after scoring several “Conjuring” universe films.
The first two films in the “Conjuring” series made an estimated $320 million at the box office apiece on $20 million and $40 million budgets, respectively. Unfortunately, the third movie likely won’t be as profitable. Warner Bros. postponed the film’s original September 11 release date last fall due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Now, “Devil” is part of the studio’s deal with HBO Max to release all the studio’s 2021 films simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service.
Even so, James Wan’s horror movie money train continues to chug along. The “Conjuring” series’ third film, and the eighth installment overall in the cinematic universe, opens on June 4, in theaters and HBO Max.