The Conjuring universe’s favorite demon-possessed doll returns in next year’s Annabelle 3, and director Gary Dauberman shares some new plot details. While Warner Bros. continues to try and salvage its problematic DCEU brand with films like Aquaman and Shazam!, the studio already actually has a successful cinematic universe under its umbrella. The Conjuring universe may not be full of gigantic blockbusters like the DCEU, but its performance with fans is a lot more consistently positive, as are its financial returns.
For example, this weekend’s newly released spinoff The Nun looks set to deliver a franchise opening weekend record, with an $50-million plus haul. That total will easily outdo the opening weekend gross of the original 2013 Conjuring film, which debuted to $41 million. While it’s true that The Nun isn’t exactly doing great with critics so far, the response to the film from the horror fan community is a lot kinder, and word of mouth among devotees tends to matter a lot more to horror films than the word of often horror-averse mainstream reviewers.
Since The Conjuring’s release, the franchise has put out a new film nearly every year. 2014 saw Annabelle get her first spinoff, 2016 played host to The Conjuring 2, 2017 witnessed Annabelle: Creation, and 2018 welcomed The Nun. 2019 will see Annabelle get her third solo outing, set to release in July. This time out, in-demand Hollywood horror writer Gary Dauberman will graduate to the big job, making his directorial debut, as well as penning the script. During a recent interview with Slash Film, Dauberman offered some new details about what fans can expect from the plot of Annabelle 3, expanding on the film’s original announcement in July at SDCC.
That’s going to go before cameras mid-October so I’m deep in prep on that now. We’re bringing the franchise back home after being so far away in Romania. It’s set in the Warrens’ house. It’s what happens when Annabelle comes into the artifact room. Much like Swamp Thing, what happens when Annabelle comes into the artifact room and how she affects her environment.
The most obvious takeaway from Dauberman’s comments is that Annabelle 3 – like the first two Annabelle spinoffs, as well as The Nun – will be set prior to the first Conjuring film. Clearly not too far prior though, as the main plot of The Conjuring was set not too long after demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren acquired the demonic doll. Interestingly, when asked the logical follow-up question about whether or not the Warrens themselves appear in the film, Dauberman replied with a cagey “we’ll have to wait and see.“
Dauberman is becoming quite the influential fixture in the Conjuring franchise, having written Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, The Nun, and now writing and directing Annabelle 3. He’s also picking up lots of other writing jobs along the way, including IT (and its sequel IT: Chapter Two), and DC Universe’s upcoming Swamp Thing TV pilot, explaining his reference to it above. While it would definitely be logical for the Warrens (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to appear in Annabelle 3, fans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up for them to lead the film. After all, The Conjuring 3 is still in development.